Garfield County plans to stay below 500 employees for 2010 | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield County plans to stay below 500 employees for 2010

John ColsonPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Garfield County plans on holding steady at just under 500 employees next year, and only a tiny increase in overall revenues and expenditures, as it gets ready for what is predicted to be a dramatic drop in revenues in 2011.Currently, the county has an approved 2009 staffing level of 466 full-time employees and 30 part-timers, including a number of vacancies that have yet to be filled, according to budget analyst Theresa Wagenman and county budget records.The two largest departments of the county are the Sheriff’s Office, with 145 full-time employees and two part-timers; and Human Services, with 87 full-timers and eight part-timers, the documents show. Each department is projected to spend roughly $14.5 million in 2009.And while both those departments had expected to see some increase in staffing in 2010, as indicated by 2009 budgetary documents available on the county’s website, Wagenman said that due to the ongoing economic recession in the U.S. and the world, both departments and the county government as a whole will be expected to make do with only a modest fiscal increase, and with no staffing increases.”There are no new positions being added next year,” Wagenman said, explaining that if departments have vacancies that were approved for the 2009 budget year but never filled, they can still be filled for the 2010 budget year.The third largest department, in terms of staffing, is the Road & Bridge fund, with 49 full-timers and one part-timer. But this year it is the biggest in terms of finances, with a budget of $41 million, thanks mostly to a $25 million “contribution” from the Chevron Oil Co. to be spent on Roan Creek Road (CR 204). The road is heavily used by the company in its oil and gas activities.Wagenman said the county is expecting a 30 percent drop in sales tax revenues for 2010, but since sales tax proceeds make up only about 7.5 percent of the county’s overall general fund budget, the impact is not as bad as might be expected from the numbers.She noted that property tax revenues are expected to increase in 2010, but fall off sharply in 2011. This is due to a two-year lag time in state mandated property valuations, the issuance of tax bills and payments by residential and commercial taxpayers. The fact that residential and commercial property values have been hit hard by the current recession will not be felt in tax collections for another year and a half, but the county commissioners have directed the staff to prepare for the coming drop.Among the tough new measures for the coming year, Wagenman said, is a call for no performance pay increases, which in the past have averaged around 4 percent per year for those whose job performance warranted a raise.As for the county’s ability to weather the storm, a recent audit noted that the county is in good shape with a reserve fund that stood at $17 million at the end of 2008 and had shrunk slightly in the intervening months.Wagenman said that it is not likely that the county will need to dip deeply into that reserve for the coming year, thanks to the fact that property tax collections will remain high in 2010.”That dip’s going to take place in 2011 to 2012,” she predicted.In the county’s budgeting schedule, the departmental revenue projections were turned in earlier in July, and the staffing and expenditure proposals are to be submitted by Aug. 14.The overall proposed budget is to be sent to the county commissioners by mid-October, with final adoption of the 2010 budget in December.jcolson@postindependent.com


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