Garfield County’s 2011 budget highlights Nov. 1 public hearing |

Garfield County’s 2011 budget highlights Nov. 1 public hearing

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Garfield County’s proposed 2011 budget, which calls for nearly $103 million in total revenues and $101 million in total expenses, will be in the spotlight at a public hearing before the board of county commissioners on Nov. 1.

In the general fund, which covers the county’s basic operational expenses, the county plans to bring in approximately $53 million and spend only slightly more than that.

Among the specific cuts outlined in the general-fund budget so far is a reduction in the commissioners’ “miscellaneous grants” fund from $1 million in prior years to roughly $625,000 for 2011.

Other anticipated decreases include a cut of more than 20 percent from the clerk and recorder’s department, more than 9 percent from the county attorney’s budget, and more than 25 percent from human services, among others.

Some department will see budget increases, including a jump of nearly 40 percent for the building and planning department. The increase reflects costs of a study of improvements needed for intersections where state highways and county roads come together, and a decision to “outsource” land use review to civil engineers.

The proposed budget anticipates that the county would need to use its cash reserves to pay for some capital improvements projects.

If no capital projects or “one-time expenditures” are approved by the board of county commissioners, according to the proposed budget, the county could have a reserve balance of more than $117 million at the end of 2011.

If the BOCC does go ahead with a list of “recommended projects” and other expenditures, as outlined in the county’s five-year plan, those reserves could drop to as low as $95 million in 2011, and dip to $90.3 million in 2015.

The list of capital projects for next year calls for spending a total of more than $5.5 million, including $1.5 million on the West Parachute I-70 interchange; $280,000 toward the cost of upgrading a control board at the jail ($520,000 of the total cost will come from a grant); $788,000 toward energy improvements at the courthouse building and sheriff’s office in Glenwood Springs; and more.

According to a presentation made to the BOCC by the finance department recently, the county’s revenues are projected to come from property taxes ($45.1 million), intergovernmental sources ($27 million), sales taxes ($10 million), fees and service charges ($8.6 million), lease payments, motor vehicle fees and interest (more than $8 million).

Property tax revenues are expected to drop off steeply from the $70.4 million collected in 2010, to roughly $45 million next year, thanks to a sudden plunge in assessed valuations, which started back in 2008.

Sales tax revenues also will drop again next year, according to the budget, which shows that sales tax proceeds have fallen from a high of $7.4 million in 2008, to an expected $4.7 million in 2011.

The proposed budget also calls for expenses of $17.6 million in the county’s road and bridge department, roughly 23 percent of which is to go toward paving and other road projects.

These and other budgetary issues will be taken up in the morning portion of the BOCC meeting starting at 10:15 a.m.

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