The city of Durango has no money budgeted next year for maintenance of city road infrastructure, a problem City Manager Ron LeBlanc said has been coming for years.
The city has proposed increasing both the sales tax and the property tax to overcome the deficit, an option voters will decide this fall. The proposed increase would raise sales tax 0.55 percent and property tax 5.4 mills.
The rest of the budget reflects a dedication to the services the city already provides. No new departments or divisions have been added, and one additional employee will be hired, according to the budget.
“We’re sticking to the basics, and we’re trying to live within our means,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said the capital improvement projects fund should be somewhere between $2 million and $2.5 million to maintain what the city has. That pays for preventive maintenance, such as filling cracks or refilling the road base, which keep roads in good shape.
When the city had sufficient money in the general fund for capital projects, back in 2017, most of the money it budgeted for capital improvement projects went to roads, LeBlanc said. The city budgeted $2.175 million for capital improvement projects from the general fund in 2017.
But the available money in the general fund has been on the decline since at least 2015 when the city had $3.67 million budgeted for capital improvement projects from the general fund, city data show.
This year, the fund had $825,000 budgeted for capital improvement projects, one of which – a project to resurface Thomas Drive – was never done.
“The fund is not structurally balanced because there are no funds for general maintenance,” LeBlanc said. “Deferred maintenance is a silent killer.”
Mayor Sweetie Marbury said she has full faith that voters of Durango will approve a proposed tax increase this fall.
“You have to maintain what you have,” Marbury said. “Yes, we sometimes have to sacrifice.”