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Foothills begins planning for potential mill levy funds

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By Matt Gunn

Foothills Park and Recreation District staff presented a draft of potential capital repair projects at the board’s last meeting outlining potential costs and schedules of work that could be done with a mill-levy increase.

The repairs are based on a prioritized list of work the district seeks to begin, and is calculated based on the scenario of a successful 3-mill increase in the May 2008 election.

“They’re prioritized projects, basically looking at the worst things that need to be done on the list from a safety standpoint and a use standpoint and those type of things,” said Colin Insley, Foothills director for parks, planning and construction.

The report provides an outline for how Foothills will schedule resources as it completes capital repair projects over 10 years.

If voters approve the mill levy boost in May, the district will begin receiving funds in January 2009. Half of the new tax money would go toward capital repairs, with the other half toward operations costs.

The 2009 budget increase for capital repair projects is estimated at $1.5 million. The district assumed a 10 percent annual construction cost index factored into the project cost at a compounded rate.

“And that’s based on cost index information that CDOT uses for Colorado construction costs,” Insley said.

Spending is essentially prioritized with safety first, said Mary Pat Adams, Foothills manager of marketing and community outreach. From there, the district looked at cost-saving improvements, such as improved irrigation systems, and things that must be done, such as trail improvements and other projects.

The district is looking at capital repairs and big projects. The report leaves out possible grant money, so as to show exactly how Foothills projects tax money spending.

“That goes into, based on the board’s request and the community’s request, that we had to be very specific on where those funds were going,” said Paul Quaiser, district director of leisure services.

Quaiser said that, should the mill levy increase be approved, the district can apply for matching grants. With such grants, it’s often the case that the applicant must show it has money to get money.

“They want you to put skin in the game, basically — I don’t know any other way to describe that,” Quaiser said. “But they want you to have a financial investment on your own toward that project.”

The district’s draft is a comprehensive list of major projects and potential costs.

Because there was a need to begin examining capital repair expenditures for accountability’s sake, the district had to predict some of the costs based on experience and current cost-per-acre costs, and contractor rates.

“There were some things that we are looking at that we obviously don’t have construction plans for,” Insley said.

And, of course, Foothills does not want to spend money on construction plans before the fate of next year’s proposed mill levy hike is decided.

“We’d have to go back and look at our budget and see what we could do,” if the issue is not passed, Insley said.

Contact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.com