Smaller Minturn budget includes worker raises
Minturn, CO Colorado
MINTURN, Colorado “-It may sound difficult and near impossible with an unstable economy and high maintenance costs, but Minturn, Colorado has managed to bring its 2009 budget down by 2 percent and still give its employees raises.
The Town Council approved adopting the $3.32 million budget presented Wednesday night. The 2008 budget was $3.39 million.
The most significant portion of next year’s spending plan is found in employees’ wages. The town bumped wages up ” about 8 percent ” to a current wage scale that competes with surrounding towns, something that hadn’t been done in several years.
“The pay scales we had were a couple years old and they were falling off from the market wage,” Interim Town Manager Gary Suiter said. “We have to keep up with Vail and surrounding towns.”
Even though fuel costs went up about $20,000, Suiter said the town was able to cut costs other places in order to offer the new wages and be able to bring the bottom line down. For example, the town backed out of financially supporting the winter Minturn Market and the economic development director resigned earlier in the year and the position wasn’t filled.
And the town didn’t include major projects or fluff spending in its fiscal policy outside of what is necessary, Suiter said.
“It wasn’t any more unusual this year than in past years. We’re a small town and we have a small-town budget and there isn’t a lot of fluff,” he said. “That’s just the way we’ve managed the budget in years past.”
Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty described the budget as “financially solvent” and said it was a priority for him to compensate the town’s workers properly, and was happy to do so by passing the budget Wednesday night.
“I think we’re in good shape. We’ve managed to give our employees a 9 percent raise and the staff did an amazing job managing expenses,” he said.
He added that since the town no longer has $130,000 hanging over its head for annual payment to the Eagle River Fire Protection District, which made it easier to spend elsewhere.
“That was something in our favor and there was the annexation of the Ginn property, we received some income from that,” Flaherty said, but added, “we’re being conservative. We’re aware of the economic situation and we’re aware that it’s a budget.”
Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.