Auditor: Finances improving |

Auditor: Finances improving

Oak Creek offered suggestions that could help town budget

Alexis DeLaCruz

— Oak Creek’s Denver-based auditor sent a clear message to the Town Board on Thursday night: Things are looking good.

Tim Mayberry spent an hour presenting the town’s 2006 audit. He said Oak Creek’s fiscal situation “is improving” despite the town’s $173,000 debt. The town was $218,000 in debt in 2005.

“You have a continuing deficit issue,” he said. “It’s not an overall town issue, it’s a general fund issue.”

Mayberry said the town’s enterprise funds – water, trash, sewer and electric revenues – are healthy.

Cutting an already thin staff, making more budget cuts, providing additional training for Town Clerk Karen Halterman and purchasing a $24,000 accounting software package all are options the board was encouraged to look at to decide how to continue chipping away at the bottom line.

“You know your budget. I can’t tell you what to do,” Mayberry told Town Board members. “You have to decide what you can do with your limited resources.”

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Training Halterman in accounting practices and purchasing a more efficient accounting software program would help streamline the town’s accounting practices, he said.

The board agreed to discuss purchasing the new system at its next meeting.

Oak Creek is not alone in the challenges it faces, he added.

“This is a very difficult environment for small municipalities to survive in,” he said. “If you think you’re cut to the bare bone, you have to cut some more.”

Mayor J. Elliott asked May-

berry whether it is legal to make transfers from the town’s enterprise funds to the general fund to bring it out of debt.

Although state officials could not cite any statute that says such transfers are illegal, Mayberry said he isn’t comfortable with the town continuing to transfer its monies.

“I don’t think it’s a good business practice, and the state agrees,” he said. “It would solve your issue. Yes, it’s a fix, but what you’re working on is an overall change in philosophy in how you operate.”

Mayberry, who has spent considerable amounts of time with the board and town staff working on the budget, said he thinks the town is moving in the right direction.

“You’ve made tremendous progress when you look at last year,” he said. “I think you’re understanding what you’re doing.”

As part of the budget discussion, the board again discussed putting a mill levy increase before the voters in November to help with the general fund. Halterman told the board it needed to make a decision about the mill levy before July 27 in order to get it in on the November ballot.

Mayberry said raising the mill levy by four mills would generate about $24,000 a year for the town.

Elliott, who first proposed looking into a mill levy increase, said he made the proposal thinking the mill levy would raise more money.

“I have no alternative but to say it won’t work,” Elliott said. “It was my idea, but it won’t work. There just isn’t the support for it.”

In other business, the Town Board:

n Heard from Dan Craig, who updated the town on some of Oak Creek’s water rights issues.

n Heard from Karen Tussey, who updated the town on Vision 20/30, South Routt Economic Development Council and moving the log cabin visitor center. The board agreed to waive the reconnection fees associated with the project.

n Approved its June 28 meeting minutes.

n Heard from Mayor Pro-Tem Angie KenCairn, who updated the board on grant options and other funding options for updating the town’s comprehensive plan. KenCairn said she thought the plan could be updated for $20,000 to $30,000.

n Discussed moving future meeting times to 6 p.m. to accommodate lengthy agendas.

n Heard from Public Works Director Jim Photos regarding a crack that was fixed in the town’s water tank. Photos said additional work is necessary to seal other cracks and leaks, which the board approved.

n Agreed to discuss changing the town’s speed limits to 20 mph from 25 mph at a future meeting to allow for public comment.