Craig Mayor Terry Carwile addresses the audience Friday during his State of the City address, one of several speeches offered during the annual State of the County event at Holiday Inn. Sales tax revenues are up, but city officials are still approaching the 2012 budget with “cautious optimism,” he said.

Photo by Joe Moylan

Craig Mayor Terry Carwile addresses the audience Friday during his State of the City address, one of several speeches offered during the annual State of the County event at Holiday Inn. Sales tax revenues are up, but city officials are still approaching the 2012 budget with “cautious optimism,” he said.

Mayor highlights Craig’s fiscal health in 2012 State of the City address

At a glance ...

• Craig mayor Terry Carwile highlighted city’s financial future during his State of the City address Friday night at Holiday Inn.

• His speech was one of several given by local and state officials at the annual State of the County event.

• Mayor: Sales tax revenue exceeded budget predictions in 2011, but city councilors and staff are still taking a “conservative” approach to the 2012 budget.

• Carwile also pointed to an estimated $17 million in energy impact assistance grants that could come available.

• The figure is “profoundly insufficient” for offsetting costs associated with energy development, he said.

Signs indicate the City of Craig’s financial picture is improving, leading city officials to adopt an attitude of “cautious optimism,” Craig Mayor Terry Carwile told an audience of more than 80 people Friday night.

Carwile spoke to the city’s fiscal health during his State of the City address, one of several speeches given by local and state officials during the annual the State of the County event at Holiday Inn of Craig.

Sales tax revenues exceeded budget expectations by $245,000 last year, he said.

Yet he emphasized the economic storm has not yet passed.

“There is still cause for optimism, and there is still a need for caution in our approach to the city’s financial health,” Carwile said.

For that reason, the city is budgeting only for a 4 percent increase over 2011.

“(The) council recognizes the importance of working within their means,” he said.

City Manager Jim Ferree agreed with the mayor’s analysis.

“Compared to the past couple of years, we’re pretty optimistic,” he said after the event.

However, “we did budget conservatively … because a few months does not necessarily signal a trend,” he said.

Although sales tax revenue is on the rise, other indicators look less promising.

Gov. John Hickenlooper plans to restore $10 million to the state’s energy impact assistance grant fund, which is designed to offset the indirect costs of energy development, like road and waterline repairs, Carwile said.

The state has “simply raided that fund” to balance its budget, he said after the event.

All told, an estimated $17 million in grant funds could be available, but that amount is “profoundly insufficient to address impact needs across the state, especially in the face of a significant upturn in energy development,” he told the audience.

New commercial developments, like the arrival of Tebo Center, were “encouraging,” the mayor said, yet legislation regarding coal-fired power plants could have a negative impact on local mines, he said after the event.

Carwile touched upon other 2011 highlights, including the reintroduction of mail-in ballots in April’s city election.

The new system led to a sizable boost in voter participation. “Mail-in ballots will be the norm for future municipal elections,” he said.

The completion of Colorado Northwestern Community College’s new Craig campus was another significant event, he said.

“I believe the CNCC Craig campus will be a social and economic game changer for our community in the years to come,” he said.

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