County to hold finance meeting

Upcoming budget will be discussed

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Routt County commissioners and County Finance Director Dan Strnad will discuss the state of the county's finances and its upcoming budget with the public tonight.

Strnad said he will present details on the annual budget, on the balance of county funds and on county expenditures. He will give information about the county's financial operations during the past year and will also describe what the next year or two could look like.

"It's to kind of get a flavor of here's where we are today and here are some things going on," Strnad said. "Then we'll take a little step forward and go into 2003, and maybe get a feel for what the future may hold."

The hearing should give commissioners a chance to be sure that they're making the most of the county's money, and will also give the public time to offer its views and ideas. After Strnad's presentation, the floor will open to discussion and public comment.

For the past decade, the county has operated on a pay-as-you-go funding system, instead of on a debt-service funding system.

With pay-as-you-go funding, the county sets aside funds each year to provide for replacement costs of equipment and services. With debt service funding, the county borrows money for purchases and pays the loan back with interest.

Most counties in Colorado do not use pay as you go funding; however, Jefferson County on the Front Range, is one example of a county that does, Strnad said.

Since interest rates are at an all-time low, some residents have been asking the county whether it's most effective to keep a large chunk of money in reserves, Strnad said. Some residents have questioned whether it would be better to lease equipment and free up some of the funds in reserve.

Strnad said he supports pay-as-you-go funding, as it has allowed the county to maintain services and plan for the future.

"It's worked," Strnad said. "We've definitely been able to maintain a level of services out here."

At most budget meetings, public attendance is "pretty minimal," Strnad said. Only a few people usually make it to the meetings. "It's hard enough to spend time on your own budget, let alone on the county's," Strnad said.

However, Strnad said it's helpful for residents to be involved and learn about the county's funding process.

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