Holly Trustees Prepare for 2017 Budget


Most of the items on the Holly Trustee’s agenda touched upon current spending and areas of concern regarding the 2017 budget during their monthly meeting, September 7th.

Although ARPA, Arkansas River Power Authority, has said it anticipates no rate hikes for the New Year, Town Administrator, Jerry L’Estrange, said the Trustees will need to review results of a utility survey conducted by NMPP. A representative from Nebraska Municipal Power Pool, Bob Meade, will meet with Trustees on September 14th to discuss his findings and make recommendations on the South Line project.  L’Estrange said another meeting will be held in Lamar that day at SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, for a USDA Rural Development Training workshop.  He said he is interested in the water/wastewater loans grant program and value-added produce grant seminar.  “These discussions will help us develop a strategy for the town’s water improvement and wastewater issues we’ll be dealing with in the near future,” he explained.

Regarding water, the administrator said that the south well has been online since September 2nd and is producing water to the point that the north and east wells have been shut off.  “This year long situation appears to be at an end,” he stated, adding that the sediment found in the water last year has been cleared.  Repairs were made to the pump and the depth of the pump had been shortened.  “We’d pump for a while and let it sit and we eventually came to the point that when we left it on, the water was clear.”  He told the Trustees the town has become eligible for a state grant program following a review of the 2017 Drinking Water Eligibility Survey.  “We’ve been approved for up to $800,000 and this can be applied for wastewater programs,” he said.

The 2017 budget will be similar to last year’s as a ‘hold the line’ budget with no major capital improvements expected. A preliminary review will be held at the October 5th meeting with another review set for a week later.  L’Estrange said funds will be used for street improvements paid for with money that was earmarked for a chip seal project.  He said Atmos Energy is expected to reimburse the town for work on 7th Street.  Improvements for the coming year will include repairs on the town’s parking lot, areas near the flagpole on Main Street and an area on Second and Cheyenne Streets that need covering.  Potholes will be cutaway for future asphalting.  The REDI Grant, street crossing project paperwork needs to be revised which is causing a delay, but the administrator estimated that in-kind work by the town will help cover the $60,000 in grants for the project estimated at $77,000.

With that in mind, he said the Trustees need to decide if they want to spend some reserve funds. “The budget needs to be balanced and we can use some of the funds in our cds.  We need to determine what projects are our priority, their cost and what we want to put into a bank account to pay those bills.”

Holly does have some funding from an earlier ARPA payment, but has not used it since it was allocated to the town. The Trustees passed a resolution on a five to two vote last year, reaffirming its contract obligations to ARPA.   That allowed the town to share with the other ARPA members, except for Lamar, a portion of a $2M settlement with the other communities who voted in favor of the reaffirmation.  Holly’s payment was $56,000 which was placed in an escrow account as the town attorney recommended that action in case the payment was overturned and the money had to be paid back to ARPA.  L’Estrange said the Trustees could apply that money to the South Line Project, around $57,000.  The resolution would have to be rescinded before the funds would be available.

The Trustees are taking an early look at the annual agreement with the Prowers County Sheriff’s Office for continued coverage in 2017. If the town decides to go with their own department, the Sheriff needs a written notice 90 days in advance of their actions.  L’Estrange noted that a new member of the Sheriff’s Office has moved to the town’s border which may help with future patrol coverage.  They will discuss the new agreement with the Sheriff at next month’s meeting.

The Holly Fun Club request for the closing of Buffalo Street on September 24th was approved.  The closure will affect 5th Street east to Main Street at the fairgrounds for the Gateway Fair.  The meeting dates for the final regular Trustee’s meetings are October 5, November 2 and December 7th.  Mayor Tony Garcia noted the presence of Prowers County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, and thanked her and the commissioners for their assistance and continued interest in the community.

By Russ Baldwin

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