Sunday, November 30, 2003
Finding new sources of revenues will be a goal of Routt County officials during the next few months. Without new revenues, keeping up with the county's needs could be difficult, Routt County commissioners said.
"We need to start identifying different ways to bring on new revenues," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "The picture isn't going to change as far as our existing revenues in the future."
The comment came during a public hearing about the county's 2004 proposed budget last week, during which Routt County Finance Director Dan Strnad summarized the proposed budget.
Revenues, which primarily come from property and sales tax, fees and state and federal funds, have stayed mostly flat for years and probably will continue to be flat, Stahoviak said.
County commissioners have directed Strnad and County Manager Tom Sullivan to draw up a draft list of possible ways to bring in more revenues. After that list is made, county officials will ask for the public's input on some of those possibilities.
It's too early to say what those possibilities could be, Stahoviak said.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger echoed that point, saying that without more revenue, the county only would be able to maintain levels of services without providing for additional needs.
"The public needs to understand that what you see right now is pretty much what you get," Monger said.
Any additional needs that come up, such as paving a lot of new roads or supporting affordable housing, would be difficult to fund, he said.
Through the process of finding new revenues, county officials said they place a high priority on talking with the public to identify what public needs are and how to prioritize those needs.
This year's proposed $41.3 million budget is $5.1 million more than in 2003, an increase that mostly can be attributed to the construction of the court-ordered justice center.
Revenues also went up to $38.7 million, an increase of $4.7 million from 2003 levels, but most of that increase is because of the $7 million in certificates of participation the county plans to issue for the construction of the justice center.
One way to find new revenue is through additional taxes, such as the .3 mill levy that voters approved this year to support museums and historic organizations across the county.
Overall, the tax will provide about $210,000 a year to preserve the county's history. It will cost property owners about $2.38 per $100,000 of residential property and will cost commercial property owners about $8.70 per $100,000.
Having new taxes for each new need may not be the most efficient avenue to obtain funding for new sources, county officials said.