Nov 23, 2010 1:58 PM by David Ortiviz

Pueblo council passes budget, disagrees on spending measure

Pueblo City Council has approved $76.8 million dollar budget for 2011. City Manager Jerry Pacheco says in order to balance the budget, the city had to reduce personnel costs. This means 26 vacant full time positions will remain un-filled in the coming year.

In related business, council members were at odds about how to spend $4 million in early tax payments from Black Hills Energy. The energy company is building a natural gas power complex near the airport. Council earmarked the funds for various city projects. The measure passed with a 5 to 2 vote, which council members Vera Ortegon and Chris Kaufman voting against it.

Here's a breakdown of how the money will be spent:

$1.1 million to help build a football field at Lake Minnequa

$1.1 million to help build a softball complex on Pueblo's east side

$600,000 to replace an aging bridge on W. 11th St.

$350,000 for a black rhino exhibit at the Pueblo Zoo

$200,000 to replace unmarked vehicles at the Pueblo Police Department

$150,000 for park maintenance equipment

At least four council members were opposed to either the football field or softball complex, although in the final vote both were approved. Both council members Kaufman and Ortegon were concerned about funding the projects long term. "It's easy to put a park, and it's a large park, but how is it going to be sustained after. As it is, our park department is overloaded," said Ortegon.

Council President Larry Atencio says the softball complex will charge teams a surcharge to play--he also believes both facilities will attract tourism. "Those things are going to bring money to Pueblo. They're going to bring people to Pueblo to spend money here and give us more sales tax and in turn make the city better.

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