"Compel us to run a balanced budget?" This quote can be found on the City of Grand Junction's budget overview here. VetTheGov digs a little deeper for a more realistic idea of where your tax dollars are being spent.
The City of Grand Junction has voted to spend $147.2 Million during the 2011 fiscal year compared to Mesa County's 2011 budget of $140.9 Million. Of the $147.2 Million, 38% or $55.6 Million is cost of employees Pay & Benefits which is currently at 631 Full Time Employees (FTE) and been kept the same as 2010. This is an average of $88,500.00 per FTE but not a true across the board breakdown. 48% of the 631 FTE's or 302 FTE's are law enforcement positions, 217 FTE's are general fund positions, and 110 FTE's are associated with enterprise funds.
Click here to see a powerpoint overview of the 2011 budget. While it certainly includes cuts in positions, it also shows an increase in fees which in reality is code word for an additional tax whether in the form of a parking ticket, speeding ticket, sewer tap, or use of a public facility. VetTheGov noticed that overall in the 2011 budget shows a total loss of ($23.4 Million) for the year, yet the city still maintains its $20 million just in case fund.
Highlights of the budget show total revenue projected at $124.6 Million and total expenses at $147.2 Million. Does this sound balanced? Well Yes, if you are the city government and keep $20 Million in reserves then they can fudge everywhere else.
Here is a quick list of losing programs in this years budget minus the politically correct handling of the homeless population by the Police as many would consider the police force a winner in regards to their new and improved relationship! Along with the new $12.3 Million dollar trophy building and furnished tents this should help improve tensions between the homeless and local law enforcement!
Vacation & Convention Bureau loses ($62,500) and has $733,512 in employee cost and another $1,025,042 in operating cost. This program generates in revenue from Hotel taxes, so the question is why is this losing? It's no wonder the city pays close attention to hotel receipts! Why are the taxpayers allowing this to continue especially when the city is paying over $125,000.00 annually for the VCB website? Looks like there are great travel benefits for some of the employees!
Solid Waste removal loses ($165,581) and carries $1,028,742 in employee and benefit cost and $2,224,572 in operation cost. Worthy to note expenses related to dump and recycling fees to the landfill of $1,088,137 and $99,194 in fuel cost.
Two Rivers Convention Center breaks even this year but VetTheGov must note some cost associated with the convention center. $1.2 Million for full and part-time employees and benefits, $18,045 telephone bill, and $217,665 in gas, electric, and utility cost. Side note: Remember the government tells you to conserve energy, but are they? Seems hypocritical to VetTheGov when they are the number one consumer for utilities but the government blames you for your lifestyle utility choices!
The swimming pool fund makes $1.00 this year. But interesting to note from the powerpoint presentation page 14 slide labeled Model #2 that the Orchard Mesa pool will close for the summer if revenues further decline. Also budget shows $102,000 in energy and utility cost. Question: How can they close something the tax payers are already funding? On top of that how can they add fees to programs already being funded by the general fund tax receipts?
Parking Authority Fund (Parking tickets and meter revenue) would normally make money for the city, however they have some debt repayment that makes them lose ($102,707) this year.
Ridges Irrigation Fund budgeted to lose ($44,561) which carries employee cost of $96,470 and electric cost of $100,000.
The controversial ambulance takeover is yet another loser for the city of ($34,699)! This fund carries just under $1.8 Million in employee and benefit cost and looks like the city is burying the fuel cost in another fund.
The Joint Sewer System Fund is the biggest loser this year at ($3,419,432). Carries just over $2.8 Million in salaries and benefits, $570,000 in electric and gas cost, and $272,000 in landfill cost.
VetTheGov must mention the city's contribution from the General fund to the losing social justice program Grand Valley Transit of $419,885.
VetTheGov found in comparing budgets from 2010 to 2011 the city increased the budget on paper from $152.9 Million to $167.3 Million which is a 10% increase during difficult times! Now if you use actual spent dollars of $121.8 Million from 2010 and compare to this years budget of $147.2 Million you get an actual increase of 17%.
VetTheGov hopes this information is helpful in following your tax dollars and how they are spent. Hopefully you are receiving great services from your local government and feel you are getting your monies worth! Ask yourself why do the fees keep getting increased on top of paying taxes? Ask what happens if they run out of money? Will they switch off your waste pickup? Will they portion water? What VetTheGov is asking is will the city hold you hostage for services? The city already uses the media to increase fees by threatening cuts to these major services. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look into our BIG out of control government spending habits!