County commissioners take scissors to the 2012 budget |

County commissioners take scissors to the 2012 budget

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – As Garfield County moves toward adoption of its proposed 2012 budget, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is hard at work to find ways to save money on operating expenditures.

At a budgetary work session on Wednesday, the BOCC sat down with staffers from different departments and agreed to trim approximately $1 million from proposed operating expenses. Any decisions made on Wednesday must wait for formal adoption at a regular meeting.

Freshman Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, in his first year of budget deliberations, told his fellow commissioners at the onset of the meeting, “I’d like to go through it department by department, line item by line item, if you don’t mind.”

The BOCC’s overall intent, said Commissioner John Martin, is to cut operating expenses enough to eliminate what started out as a $7 million “gap” between revenues and operating expenditures for the coming year.

In earlier stages of the county’s months-long budgetary process, at the end of September, revenues were projected at $113 million, while expenses were pegged at $120 million.

The county expected to end 2011 with fund balances of $107 million, and the gap between income and outflow was to be plugged from that surplus, according to the thinking at the time.

Since late September, however, county officials have been working to close that gap.

According to budget worksheets provided at the meeting, the county already had whittled the budgetary gap down to a little more than $1.3 million prior to Wednesday’s meeting.

Jankovsky has been meeting with various department heads on his own, simultaneously learning about the budget process and making his own decisions about areas in which expenses might be decreased.

“I really was nickel and diming,” Jankovsky remarked on Wednesday, “but I think our constituents want to see that.”

Zeroing in on everything from commuter bus passes for county employees who travel some distance to their jobs, to the cost of leasing copy machines or hiring outside contractors to perform certain tasks, the commissioners chipped away at departmental budgets.

For example, in the BOCC’s own budget, a $500,000 commitment toward funding of the Rifle Energy Park was found to have already been paid this year, although the line-item was carried over to 2012.

“We can jettison that half-million,” declared County Manager Ed Green.

The BOCC also is taking a close look at its membership in various statewide organizations, such as the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Club 20, the I-70 Coalition, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and others.

All together, the county pays more than $105,000 in dues and other fees to belong to these organizations, and some of those memberships may fall under the budget ax.

The commissioners also terminated “place-holder” positions in the county administration budget, saving $391,000 in salaries and benefits.

Green noted that the positions had been “reserved” and kept on the budget two years ago, when the county laid off a number of people as the national recession deepened.

And the BOCC is taking aim at some of the training budgets for different departments. The finance department, for instance, has budgeted $61,700 for training, and the commissioners directed Lisa Dawson, head of the department, to give them a full accounting of those expenses at a future budget meeting.

The BOCC will continue to seek ways to trim the operating budget at a future meeting, and will turn the same attention to the county’s capital budget as well.

The county’s budget is due for final adoption at a meeting in early December.

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