The Town of Telluride’s 2017 budget is nearing approval. 

Council plans to adopt the proposed $11.6 million General Fund budget at the Nov. 1 general meeting. 

The 2017 General Fund budget is approximately $200,000 more than the current year’s amended budget, with the biggest difference being indirect project costs. 

Areas of focus next year will be water and wastewater projects as the city continues to replace outdated water lines, update treatment plant technology, and develop better ways to store and treat water and wastewater. 

Water and wastewater projects are covered through separate enterprise funds, which use taxes and service fees to raise capital. 

“People don’t want to talk about pipes. It’s just not sexy,” Town Manager Greg Clifton said of the current pipe-replacement project. “But when water doesn’t come out of the faucet, our phones will ring. 

“There’s so much work behind the scenes just to make sure water comes out of the faucet.”

For 2017, projected Water Fund revenues are $2.6 million, while projected expenditures are $3.5 million. 

The town currently is replacing a 60-year-old pipe along East Colorado Avenue as part of a comprehensive project to revamp the infrastructure. 

Plans to replace more pipes around town and the Bridal Veil Basin are in the works for next year, including repairs to pipes that carry water through the Lewis and Blue lakes areas.

“We’re chipping away on these things,” Clifton said. “(Colorado Avenue) was our worst pipe.”

Efforts to improve the water system have been ongoing for some time now, Clifton explained, including construction of the Pandora Water Treatment Plant in 2014. 

The Mill Creek Water Treatment Plant is in need of equipment and holding tank updates, which are projected to be $278,500, according to city officials. 

A new computer-monitored control panel will be installed to help regulate the lines, and one of the two holding tanks will be relined. 

Telluride Public Works Director Paul Ruud explained that water lines need almost constant maintenance.

“I think we’re doing pretty good in that regard, but we do have some differed maintenance,” Ruud said. 

Karen Guglielmone, environmental and engineering division manager for the town, explained during a recent budget workshop session that replacing pipes and fixing leaks in the Bridal Veil Basin and surrounding areas is difficult given the potentially treacherous location.

“It’s a hodgepodge of various pipe types. Much of it still has to be replaced,” Guglielmone said. “It’s very dangerous to get up there during avalanche season.”

The projected Wastewater Fund revenues for 2017 are just under $2.3 million, while projected expenditures are $2.8 million. 

Treatments to remove chemicals from wastewater will be an area of focus in an effort to comply with new state regulations regarding wastewater care, Clifton said. 

In other budget news, the Shandoka Apartments management structure will be revamped to include the responsibilities of the planned Virginia Placer apartments. 

Clifton explained that right now the Shandoka apartment complex is under his office’s responsibility, but the addition of approximately 70 additional spaces at Virginia Placer calls for more staffing and a department head. 

Currently, the projected Shandoka Fund revenues for 2017 are just under $1.8 million, while projected expenditures are $2 million.

KOTO REQUEST

Last week, KOTO Community Radio, in conjunction with the San Miguel Education Fund, requested an additional $36,223.95 from the town to support general operating costs. 

KOTO will receive $25,000 in 2017, which was the original request. The additional monies would go toward replacing outdated equipment, redesigning the website and creating a new KOTO app. 

Council discussed the request at Friday’s work session, and decided to allocate an additional $15,000 from the general fund, contingent upon KOTO asking other governments in the towns it covers for money as well.

The question of whether to fund the formation of a new mental health commission also was discussed Friday. The commission went to council during an August meeting, but did not request a specific amount of money. 

During the August presentation, the commission projected 2017 budget needs of $300,000. Council said it would like to hear more about the proposed commission, which aims to coordinate and improve behavioral health services in the area, before adding an item to the budget. 

Clifton stressed that the current numbers reflect a tentative budget. Items can be changed up until the budget is approved. Once the budget is passed, it only can be changed through amendments. 

Clifton said upwards of three amendments are typically added each year.