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Town bus service to Founders Village and The Meadows will continue in 2010, as will the Recreation Center’s Masters Swimming program, Town Council decided Tuesday in passing Castle Rock’s 2010 budget.
Both programs had been considered for elimination, but changes were made to enable their retention for next year.
Reductions to public transit services and to various recreation programs were proposed for 2010 so more funds could be used to maintain Town services vital to public health and safety.
Sales tax revenue currently is used to fund the Town’s bus service, commonly referred to as CATCO. Council has decided that practice should be phased out and that an election should be held as soon as November 2010 or April 2011 so voters can decide whether to establish a new tax to fund a Town transit service.
Moving toward that end, the proposed changes to the Town’s bus service for 2010 were: reducing service by two hours per day; eliminating service on Saturdays and Town holidays; implementing a fare for the currently free service; and eliminating trips to Founders Village and The Meadows. (The buses currently run a full schedule to the two neighborhoods.)
During the budget process, a $40,000 transportation grant became available to the Town as long as it agreed to preserve some aspect of the bus service proposed for elimination.
Council decided Tuesday to retain partial service to Founders Village and The Meadows at a cost of $50,000. The grant will cover $40,000 of that service. The remaining $10,000 will come from fare collections. Council has directed that fares will be collected beginning March 1.
In passing the budget, Council also decided to retain a scaled-back Masters Swimming program. Practices no longer will be held from 5:30 to 7 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Pool lanes at those times will be rented to another group, and Masters Swimming fees increased by 10 percent. Those adjustments will take the program’s annual budget impact down to $7,500 from its current $15,000.
“We think it’s a win-win situation,” Parks and Recreation Director Rob Hanna said.
Not all the tough choices associated with the budget could be avoided. As proposed, Saturday and holiday Town bus service will end Jan. 1. Service also will be reduced by two hours each day at that time. However, the new schedule is not currently known. All-day service will continue in Founders Village and The Meadows through February. After that, those neighborhoods will be serviced only half of the time. The schedules and exact routes have yet to be determined.
In addition, the FrontRangeExpress commuter bus service between Colorado Springs and Denver no longer will stop in Castle Rock after Dec. 31. Also, fees are being raised and hours reduced at the Recreation Center, and Town employees will see no pay increases in 2010.
Those changes come along with $35 million in expenditure reductions the Town has made over the past three years.
The Town’s 2010 mill levy will be 1.703, down slightly from this year’s 1.705. That means the owner of a $300,000 house will pay $40.67 in property taxes to the Town for all of 2010. (The lion’s share of a resident’s property tax payment goes to the Douglas County School District.)
Total Town expenditures for 2010 are budgeted at $106.95 million, and revenues are expected to be about $85.1 million. The difference will be offset by the planned use of reserves for scheduled capital projects.
Also on Tuesday, Council approved the Town’s list of capital improvements to complete over the next five years. The list is revised each year with the adopting of the budget.
The purpose of the five-year plan is to identify potential future projects. The projects slated for 2010 have been budgeted for, but the projects planned for 2011 through 2014 are for planning purposes only, and no funds have been committed to them.
Among the major projects proposed for 2010:
The projects are subject to deferral if priorities change or if revenues do not come in as expected. Questions? E-mail us or call 720-733-2227.