Alyssa Roberts

Alyssa Roberts
Grand Junction, CO

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stimulus package and Grand Junction, Colorado!!

Colorado is preparing to spend their $2.85 billion share of the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on everything from road repairs to food stamps. This sum includes $752 million to help Colorado pay the bills and cover the state budget deficit without laying off teachers or reducing Medicaid benefits. Construction focusing on highway and bridge repairs gets $404 million. $100 million will go toward making more homes energy efficient. Millions more is coming for job training and to extend unemployment benefits.

Below are more ways American’s can boost their bottom line:

An Incentive for Home Buyers
A tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers has been extended through November, 2009.

More in Your Paycheck
Starting in the second half of this year, you’ll see a reduction in the amount withheld to cover income taxes-up to $400 for individuals and $800 for couples both in 2009 and 2010.

Help for the Laid-Off
Those who remain on their former employer’s health insurance plan will get a 65% subsidy for up to nine months. The first $2,400 in unemployment insurance benefits this year will be tax-exempt.

Something for Retirees
If you collect Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or veterans’ disability or retirement benefits, look for a $250 check this summer.

A Break on College Tuition
A beefed up Hope credit will max out at $2,500, up from $1,800. Qualifying income limits will rise to $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples. In 2009 and 2010 you may use money in your 529 account to purchase a computer or internet access for your college student.
Read more at the IRS website;

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Single or married people who worked full time or part time in 2008 can qualify for the EITC depending on their income.
Workers who are raising one child* in their home and have family income of less than $33,995 (or $36,995 for married workers) in 2008 can get an EITC of up to $2,917.
Workers who are raising more than one child in their home and have family income of less than $38,646 (or $41,646 for married workers) in 2008 can get an EITC of up to $4,824.
Workers who are not raising children in their home, and are between ages 25 and 64 on Dec. 21, 2008, and have income below $12,880 (or $15,880 for married workers) can get an EITC of up to $438.

Workers with investment income exceeding $2,950 in 2008 may not claim the EITC.
* Qualifying children include: sons, daughters, stepchildren, grandchildren and adopted children. Brothers, sisters, stepbrothers or stepsisters -- as well as descendants of such relatives -- if they were cared for as members of the family.

Despite downturn, plans for Grand Junction rec center alive

Economic troubles may have hit the Grand Valley, but some people think that doesn't mean the fun should end. That's why a community recreation center for the area is still on the table.
The 85,000 square feet recreation center is estimated to cost $28 million dollars. Project planners say the facility would run from existing income, but it would still need a boost from the city's sales tax.
"I think it would be great, help our community to have that asset, and I think it would be a wonderful benefit to families," Debbie Hall said.
Ask around, and parents and community members alike agree there is a need for a recreation center in the Grand Valley.
Sally Schaefer is the board chair of Grand Valley Recreation Resources Inc. She says there's an upside to the economic downturn--the estimated price tag of the project may drop with lower contractor costs.
"I'm hoping the cost is down now to $25 million. We have foundations saying they're dying to give us money. They're still standing in the wings waiting to do that," she said.
She says right now is a tough time to gain support, but the community needs this.
"We just don't have any place where whole families can go.
The proposed recreation center would include an indoor play area, a pool, two gymnasiums and a health facility. It would be built along the Colorado River where the bridge crosses to Orchard Mesa.
Overall, parents we spoke with say they'd be happy to see a community recreation center. It will be up to voters to decide on the November 2010 ballot.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grand Junction schools fuel the economy

While the economy began to struggle in 2008, the demand for commercial drivers didn’t slow down.
The number of commercial driver’s licenses issued in Colorado during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, was 44,436. During fiscal 2008, 52,902 were issued, according to Colorado Department of Revenue spokesman Mark Couch.
People interested in obtaining a CDL can study with materials published by the Department of Motor Vehicles and available at driver’s license offices for free. Manuals also are available at
There are multiple schools in the Grand Valley that offer courses for obtaining a CDL.
5 Star CDL Professional Training, 2591 B 3/4 Road, offers courses that last five to eight weeks. Graduates who pass their tests can expect to earn $40,000 a year, said director LeRoy Arguello.
About half of his graduates work locally. Others drive national routes, which have them on the road for weeks at a time.
Arguello has contacts with national driving firms that will hire his students right out of school. He said most of his students come to the school for a change in careers. “For me, it was basically, the CDL is like a piece of gold, your opportunities,” Henderson said. “Whether it’s from a boat, train or plane, it’s gotta come in on a truck.”
Henderson left an 18-year career in management to get his CDL. He took a 130-hour course at 5 Star, spending time in the classroom and behind the wheel.
“We are very busy and have a good reputation going,” Arguello said. “We haven’t slowed down yet.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mesa State still big engine of Grand Junction-area economy

Mesa State College’s place in the economic grand scheme is twofold but contradictory.
On one hand, the college is tightening its belt in the face of slashed state support. With the economy shedding jobs, Mesa State is re-examining where resources are devoted to ensure it gears its programs to job opportunities for graduates.
On the other, Mesa State is still a powerhouse for the Western Slope in uncertain economic times.The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment projects several industries to increase in Grand Junction through 2016, including construction management, projected to grow by 73.8 percent; nursing by 42.4 percent; and mechanical engineering by 41.2 percent.
For these industries, Mesa State has added programs to meet the need, such as a degree in mechanical engineering, which is offered in partnership with the University of Colorado, a degree in construction management and expanded programs in nursing.
The Grand Junction Economic Partnership ranked the college, with 1,267 employees, as the third-largest employer in the area in 2008.
The board of trustees committed to giving college employees an inflationary pay increase this year, and Foster said he doesn’t believe in furloughs or freezing salaries despite the budget constraints.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tax Credit For Home Buyers

Tax credit has been increased to $8,000.
Homes have to be purchased between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009
No repayment/recapture clause for homes sold after 36 months of occupancy and ownership.

The Tax Credit is for home buyers (either spouse if filing jointly) who have NOT owned a principle residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. Ownership of vacation property or rental property does not disqualify home buyers from this program.
The maximum credit is $8,000 or 10% of the home purchase, whichever is less.
The credit is available for homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 31, 2009.
To qualify for the full tax credit, married couples' modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) should be under $150,000 and single filers' MAGI should be less than $75,000. Partial tax credits may be available for married couples with MAGI incomes of over $150,000 but under $170,000 and single filers with incomes over $75,000 but under $95,000. If married couples who qualify for the first-time tax credit file separately, they would both claim 5% of the home purchase or $4,000 each (whichever is less) on their tax returns.
Home buyers who qualify for this program, but who do not intend to purchase a home till the end of 2009, may elect to alter their tax withholdings (up to the amount of the of the tax credit) in order to save up money for a down payment. However, if the purchase of the home does not occur, the taxes must be repaid to the IRS.
There is no recapture or repayment clause IF the home is owned for at least 36 months.
The effective date of purchase for new construction (even if buyer owns title to the lot) is the date the owner first occupies the house. So even if construction began in 2008, as long as the home and buyers qualify for the tax credit, they will be eligible if they take possession any time during 2009. However, new construction bought from the builder is only eligible if the settlement date (closing) takes place between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009.
The law allows taxpayers to elect to treat qualified 2009 purchases as a 2008 purchase so that they can receive the tax credit on their 2008 tax returns.
The full amount of the eligible tax credit is refunded to the buyer, regardless of whether the buyer has paid an equivalent amount in taxes.

Please consult your tax advisor / accountant to determine whether you are eligible for this tax credit before making any decisions or changes to your tax status.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stimulus package may direct $14.4M to Mesa County Roads

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The $787 billion economic stimulus package on its way to President Barack Obama’s desk may bring up to $48.4 million to rebuild roads and bridges in western Colorado. The latest figures show $14.4 million in Mesa County projects would be funded, subject to approval by the Colorado Transportation Commission.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grand Junction News!

Grand Junction is still one of the top rated places in the Nation to live. Especially in these challenging economic times.