Number crunching

City anticipates more in sales tax revenue while still budgeting conservatively


— The proposed 2003 Routt County budget yields few surprises.

Neither cuts nor huge gains to departments are looming.

"We're not slicing and dicing," County Finance Director Dan Strnad said. "We're not really doing anything. We're kind of neutral."

The $35.9 million budget boasts a 20 percent increase from last year's budget revenues. But much of that increase stems from federal funding for airport and road and bridge improvement projects.

"Other than that, for all intents and purposes, we're staying status quo," Strnad said.

According to the proposed budget, about $33.8 million in revenue is expected. The county will dip into its reserve to pick up the balance of the budget.

County officials expect to collect $9.8 million in property taxes, which will increase by 5 percent, or $453,000.

The 5 percent stems from a 1 percent increase in new construction and a 4 percent increase in taxes to make up for declining property tax revenues stemming from the reclassification of several commercial properties as residential properties.

Property owners can expect to pay an additional $5, or $124 per $100,000 of residential property.

The county anticipates sales taxes to grow 7 percent from last year's budget to $4.5 million.

The recession and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks prompted county officials to conservatively estimate sales tax revenue in 2002.

Sales tax revenue through August, however, is 8 percent above budget. County officials expect the increase will continue in 2003. But Routt County will continue to plan conservatively for its sales tax revenues, Strnad said, because the economy is expected to remain sluggish for most of 2003.

The county estimates building fees will generate less revenue this year as the number of building permits decline.

Federal revenues represent a large chunk of the proposed budget. Government assistance will grow by 143 percent in 2003.

Much of the $9.4 million is slated for Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration will fund 90 percent of the $3.9 million runway overlay and the $1.2 million partial rehabilitation of the commercial service apron.

Airport Director Jim Parker said the airport trimmed some of its 2003 budget by curbing work hours for its snowplow operators and passenger service representatives.

The Transportation Security Administration is picking up the airport's security personnel tab.

"We're counting on it," Parker said.

The county's road and bridge projects will receive $2.5 million in 2003.

An $800,000 federal grant is expected to cover much of the cost of replacing the McGregor Bridge that accesses the Milner Landfill.

A facelift to 32 miles of county roads is included in the proposed budget. The county's pavement management plan scheduled more than a dozen chip and seal projects for 2003.

County officials have been considering the major project for three or four years, Strnad said.

The county budgeted a 6.2 percent increase in compensation and benefits for county employees to keep wages competitive and respond to rising health insurance costs.

Personnel expenses total $14.5 million, or 41 percent of the proposed 2003 county budget.

The budget reflects the loss of about nine full-time positions attributed to attrition, unfilled vacancies and federal funding sources.

Also included in the budget is $468,000 for the purchase of open space, $60,000 to operate a proposed detoxification facility and $41,700 for recycling collection sites in Hayden, Oak Creek and Clark and cleaning up public rights of way.

The county has set aside $300,000 in the budget to re-evaluate the judicial facility project, which failed at the polls in the Nov. 5 election.

Department heads do not have to worry about budget cuts in 2003.

"We're in pretty good shape," Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.

But while county funding is assured, state and federal funding is up in the air.

Bob White, director of the county's Department of Human Services, said he is not concerned about the status of local dollars, but he wonders how much is coming from the state and federal government.

"We know there's going to be cuts," he said. "We just don't have any idea about which programs are going to be hit."

To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4203

or e-mail


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