Garfield County spending cut by $15 million
Tightening their belts for a $17 million decline in property tax revenue tied to a dip in oil and gas production, Garfield County commissioners cut more than $15 million from the county’s expenditures for the 2017 budget, and they say that won’t mean a reduction in services.
The road and bridge fund and capital expenditure fund took the bulk of the spending cuts, as budget documents show about $10.6 million less in road and bridge fund spending and about $4.3 million less spending from the capital expenditures fund compared to the 2016 amended budget.
In road and bridge, most of that has come from reduced spending on infrastructure and some spending on asphalt. The capital expenditures fund will see a reduction in building spending within its facilities and fairgrounds section.
Over all of the county’s 19 funds, the budget commissioners approved last week shows $91 million in revenues and about $105 million in expenditures. It breaks down into $86.5 million for operations, $11.7 million for capital expenses and $7.5 million for discretionary expenditures.
General fund spending, which accounts for about half of the county’s budget, remains relatively unchanged with a $650,000 increase.
Commissioners are also freeing up some reserves, partly by adjusting the mill levy allocated to road and bridge.
In total the county is going to pull about $14 million from reserves.
The resulting operations budget is balanced by about $150,000. And county staff noted the county’s employee head count is also staying the same, at 517.
“The direction from the board to our staff was to provide a balanced operating budget, maintain services at their current level, not increase employee count, while providing an employee cost of living increase,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “We appreciate management and staff meeting those goals,” he said.
Commissioners and the county manager have said that each department has done a good job of recognizing the call for cutbacks and have generally not asked for big budget increases.
The department heads all submitted reasonable and conservative budgets in this tight year, County Manager Kevin Batchelder said at the adoption hearing.
However, several departments’ budgets have grown in the low single digits, which reflects salary increases that commissioners approved.
“We have spent a lot of time considering the reduction in revenues and evaluating how to provide the current level of services to our residents, while still maintaining a balanced operating budget,” said Batchelder. “We believe we have reached a budget that will serve the community well.”
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The Garfield County coroner has identified the pedestrian who was killed in a one-vehicle crash on Highway 6 in Rifle Wednesday morning.