Town board gets a look at proposed 2021 budget
At Tuesday evening’s regular meeting of the Berthoud Board of Trustees, once again held virtually via Zoom video conference, the trustees got a look at the proposed 2021 budget as well as head a presentation from Jinger Tomassi and Gloria Magrum of the House of Neighborly Services regarding use of the old town hall building on Massachusetts Ave.
Prior to hearing the presentations, however, Berthoud Area Chamber Executive Director Melissa Feldbush joined the meeting to thank the trustees and the town on behalf of local business for the support provided through various measures in light of the pandemic. The board also voted 6-0, with Mayor Pro-Tem Maureen Dower absent, to appoint Abigail Smith to the Berthoud Planning Commission for a four-year term. Smith was one of five applicants interviewed for the opening and received the recommendation from the interview committee.
The board then listened to a short presentation from Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly who gave a brief overview of the 2020 Community Report. Donnelly, who is in the final months of his final term on the Board of Commissioners, received praise from several trustees for his years of service to which he said, “It’s been the honor of my professional career to have been able to work on great issues with a lot of great people.” The community report can be found at https://www.larimer.org/public-affairs/community-report.
The House of Neighborly Services (HNS), represented by Tomassi and Magrum on Tuesday evening, approached the board asking that the town donate the former town hall building, located on Massachusetts Ave and 3rd St, to the group.
Margum explained the mission and shared success stories of the Berthoud HNS, which has been operating in Berthoud for 30 years and in Loveland for 60, to the board. Margum explained the HNS is an organization that “offers a hand up, not a hand out,” and works to “break the chains of poverty” by offering a wide array of both tangible needs such as food and clothing, assistance with utility payments and services such as counseling and networking opportunities.
The HNS began their Berthoud Life Center in 2015 but the group has outgrown their current space at Grace Place, where it has been such 2017, and thus is seeking the donation of the old town hall building with Margum saying, “we need Berthoud come along side of us a be a partner,” and stated the own town building offers an ideal location in the center of town and the space is currently vacant. Several residents joined the meeting with most speaking in support of the HNS Berthoud Life Center.
While the board thanked Margum for her presentation and were largely complimentary of the work done by the HNS and Berthoud Life Center, several trustees seemed hesitant to donate the old town building, suggesting other locations such as Waggener Farm Park and current Berthoud Skate Park for the group. Board members also offered different ideas of what to do with the old town hall building.
The board did not make any final decisions regarding what should be done with the old town building and, at the same time, did not officially reject the proposal laid out by Margum and Tomassi. Trustee Mike Grace said, “I’d like to know what options we have on the table. If we came back to this with a list of options, most advantageous to have the full list in front of us rather than just be picking and choosing what we think might work.”
Finally, Town Administrator Chris Kirk gave and detailed presentation of the 2021 proposed budget. Among the highlights, Kirk said there will not be any rate increases for town utility services for the third consecutive year. He stated that in assembling the proposed budget, he and town staff “took a conservative approach” because, even though tax revenue has not yet taken a hit due to the pandemic, it was decided that would be best to be prudent.
Kirk also stated that, due to some significant structural issues at the old pool at Town Park, the pool will not be opened this summer. Included in the budget is plans for the renovations and upgrades at the park, which will include a splash pad type amenity replacing the pool.
The proposed budget includes $750,000 for continued street maintenance, $550,000 for sidewalk construction and repair, $350,000 for trail construction, $750,000 for a new skate park, installation of four electric vehicle charging stations at Waggener Farm Park recreation center, $250,000 for a new building at the Public Works Service Center to house vehicles and equipment, funding for additional improvements at the water and wastewater treatment plants and $5,000,000 for additional raw water purchases.
In outlining other proposed expenditures, such as additional and upgraded equipment for park and road maintenance, Kirk stated, “A lot of all these things have a significant impact for our staff … these are not just expenses but investments,” a sentiment that was well-received by the trustees. The board is likely to vote on the budget, with some possible changes on the margins, at the meeting on Dec. 8.
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