Thursday, November 16, 2000
Routt County Routt County's finance director has come up with a budget that is about $1.5 million over projected revenue.
That means the county will have to dig money out of its cash reserves to meet its financial obligations.
Outgoing Commissioner Ben Beall said that's not unusual.
"We've just made the decision that our fund balance is high enough that we can afford to take some money out of it," Beall said.
Finance Director Dan Strnad said the county has about $17 million in reserves, much of which is set aside for capital and equipment expenditures for the next 20 years.
It may sound like too much money, but Strnad warns it's not a fund the county can just dip into without good reason.
"Road and bridge is capital-intensive, and big projects eat this money up fast," he said. "The airport is a huge cost, too."
In terms of numbers, the county expects to spend $28.7 million, according to the proposed 2001 budget. But revenue coming in from taxes, fees and state and federal funds amounts to only $27.2 million.
One of the major expenses the county has outlined is an extra $500,000 needed to give county employees larger raises this year.
The county has had a difficult time retaining employees in some departments, most notably the Sheriff's Department, where the turnover rate is more than 80 percent.
The sheriff and his top two deputies have been critical of what they say they perceive as a lack of action on the part of the county commissioners.
Sheriff John Warner seemed pleased with the extra 7 percent raise.
"I'm pleased with the commissioners' extra effort to come forward with that, but we must continue to look at salary issues in the county," Warner said. "It won't be solved until we get to a point where we can hire employees at market level."
Beall said the additional 7 percent raise can also be credited to department heads who have tightened their belts.
"Our department heads have been disciplined about not asking for more operational expenses. And their employees have been more productive even though there's been a lot of growth in the county," Beall said.
Strnad said the county hopes to make up for the budget's $1.5 million shortfall during 2002.
"We're betting the building trend will continue," Strnad said.
Strnad said the county is collecting an additional $603,000 in property taxes for 2001 over last year.
The county will collect $483,000 more in sales and use taxes for 2001.
To reach Frances Hohl call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org