Garfield County unveils proposed 2011 budget |

Garfield County unveils proposed 2011 budget

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A public hearing about the proposed 2011 Garfield County budget, involving total revenues and expenditures of roughly $100 million, drew exactly no members of the public to a meeting on Nov. 1.

But the public will have a second chance to comment on the document, at the meeting on Dec. 13 at which the budget is to be adopted by the Board of County Commissioners.

The proposed 2011 budget for the general fund, which covers most of the county’s day-to-day operations, calls for expenditures of $53.7 million, an increase of $4.8 million from the projected 2010 final budget of $48.9 million, according to budget documents. That is an increase of nearly 9.8 percent.

At the Nov. 1 meeting, finance director Lisa Dawson was asked by Commissioner John Martin to explain how the budget of the building and planning department could increase by 40 percent, as characterized in a news report.

The reason is multi-fold, Dawson said.

First, the increase is in the operations budget of the department, which she said is relatively slim since it does not contain the salaries and benefits of the dozen or so employees in the department.

As a result, she continued, the operations budget is significantly increased with the addition of funds for a special study of the intersections between county roads and state highways, planned for next year.

The same is true, she said, for expenses related to sending building plans to outside engineers, instead of employing engineers in-house. The change is reflected in a decrease in the compensation budget, but an increase in the department’s operations budget.

According to budget officer Theresa Wagaman, this resulted in the elimination of one engineering position, which cost the county more than $94,800 in wages and benefits, in exchange for an estimated payment of $80,000 for “outsourced engineers,” as proposed in the 2011 budget.

Overall, according to the budget documents provided to the Post Independent, the building and planning department’s budget is expected to drop from more than $1.8 million in 2010, to roughly $1.55 million next year.

For the Board of County Commissioners, the proposed 2011 budget calls for expenses of roughly $5.9 million, down from the projected spending of $6.5 million for 2010 and well below the $9.6 million initially budgeted for the current year.

One of the county’s biggest departments, the sheriff’s office, will see an increase of more than 5 percent from the amount budgeted for 2010 – rising from approximately $18.3 million to nearly $19.3 million.

The sheriff spent less than his budget for 2010, however, with spending for this year projected at $16.6 million, a savings of roughly $1.7 million.

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