CENTER— Center trustees approved the town’s 2019 budget last week after a year of frequent budget workshops, budget trimming by department heads and the approval and reception of an asset inventory grant from the Department of Local Affairs.
For the first time in years, Town Administrator Brian Lujan reported Wednesday, the town is in the black with its General Fund where revenues versus expenditures are concerned. The only fund that is not in line with this is the road and street improvement fund, which will surpass revenues by $452,000.
Lujan explained that Center’s street improvement fund goes strictly to improving roadways and approximately one percent of the town’s taxes go to this fund. This was by a vote of Center residents some years ago.
Next year the fund must pay for a substantial amount of work, Lujan noted, because the town had to wait for utility upgrades on its major streets. Utility crews had to cut through the pavement to bury utility lines, but the upgrades are now complete.
Center’s General Fund for 2019 came in at $800,243 and light and power at $2,246,697. The gas fund for 2019 is $1,423,012 and the water fund is $567,470. The Conservation and Trust Fund came in at $22,056 and the street fund at $130,000.
Total General Fund expenditures are $887,083 and revenues in excess of expenditures are $1,160. Lujan says this is a major accomplishment that required a lot of hard work from elected officials and department heads.
Light and power revenues versus expenditures are $2,246,500 with a revenue excess of $114; gas is $1,416,585 with a revenue excess of $6,426, and water expenditures are $517,613 with revenues in excess at $49,857. Street expenditures are estimated at $502,500 with a negative $452,500 in expenditures, and the Conservation Trust Fund is at $22,000 with revenues exceeding expenditures by $50.
Lujan says the town will continue to tighten the budget strings by pursuing its asset inventory next year. The inventory is necessary because currently depreciated pipes, wires, poles and other utility infrastructure have not been accurately assessed for many years. “We need to see how they are depreciating,” Lujan said. “Then we can come up with proper percentages to put in reserves to repair depreciation and to prepare for catastrophic events.”
Once the town has a complete idea of its assets they can then work to budget for the depreciation and this will help stabilize the town’s finances. While most assets will be for utilities, it will be “across the board,” Lujan said, and also will apply to other town assets as well.
“I want to commend our elected officials for the time and effort they spent in budget workshops and meeting with department heads to arrive at these positive numbers,” Lujan said. “Everyone has worked really hard and we will continue this work with our asset inventory.”