Garfield County is prepared to ‘weather the storm’ in 2011
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Although the county is bracing for a distinct drop in property tax revenues for the coming year, an official predicted that “we’re going to weather the storm” without having to make any drastic cuts.
“We’ve got over a hundred million dollars in fund balance that we can use to cover any budget shortfall,” said county manager Ed Green, referring to the county’s reserve of $104 million.
He said the county is expecting around $45 or $50 million in revenues from property taxes for 2011, compared to the $70 million or so that was collected for 2010.
But on top of that, he said, will be another $50 million or so in income from state and federal sources, fees charged for services and sales taxes.
As a result, Green said, the county is expecting to take in approximately $100 million in total revenues.
He also said that the county’s budget for 2010, approximately $140 million, contained roughly $40 million in “big-dollar capital projects.”
The 2011 budget, he said, will not be so heavily weighted.
Green explained that the county is planning to spend around $800,000 to improve the energy efficiency of two county buildings, the courthouse and the jail. And the county is on the hook for about $1 million in design costs for the planned new I-70 interchange at the west side of Parachute, along with an additional $1.5 million in the county’s share of construction costs of the interchange being spread over the coming couple of years.
Other than that, he said, the county is working to pare its road improvement projects by a third.
Plus, the county has trimmed 27 positions from its employment rolls over the course of 2010, Green said, taking advantage of attrition and not filling vacancies when not absolutely necessary.
Just as they did last year, county department heads have included raises in their proposed 2011 budgets, at levels of 3 percent or lower, Green said.
But, he added, “It will be up to the commissioners” to give the final approval for those raises, or not. Green noted that the county’s staff went without raises last year.
Just in case, he said, he has proposed a special fund of $250,000 to deal with unexpected hiring needs that might come up.
As things now stand, according to Green, “We’re very close as far as revenues matching up with expenditures.”
He predicted that the board of county commissioners may have to dip into the reserves to the tune of approximately $5 million or $6 million to achieve a balanced budget, which will leave the county with a fund balance of roughly $98 million at the end of next year.
The final proposed budget is to be presented to the commissioners on Oct. 13.
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