Commissioners OK cut of Building Department position

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Routt County general fund revenues*

2009 vs. 2008, year-to-date

2009, 2008, Percent decrease

$5,377,457, $7,086,182, -24.1 percent

2009 budget vs. projection

Budget, Projected, Percent decrease

$12,235,285, $9,920,430, -18.9 percent

*Figures do not include property tax revenues because those revenues don't fluctuate

Source: Routt County

In preparation for a 2010 financial situation that doesn't look much rosier than this year's, the Routt County Board of Commissioners is taking an in-depth look at county programs.

In a meeting Tuesday, the commissioners reviewed an analysis of county departments' programs and how much money and personnel time is devoted to each. The exercise is intended to help the county develop its budget for next year.

"It's an interesting template to start a discussion," Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said.

Routt County is facing a $5 million deficit in its 2009 budget. There already have been cuts in personnel, operating and capital costs - including a 10 percent reduction in pay countywide - but the projected deficit still stands at more than $1 million. County Manager Tom Sullivan said the moves made to cut spending by $4 million this year are not sustainable, which is why the commissioners are taking a comprehensive look at county programs.

"What we're really focused on is how we're going to address the same situation with no recovery in 2010," Commissioner Doug Monger said.

The commissioners began their review Tuesday with an evaluation of the Road and Bridge Department's snowplowing program. The commissioners discussed reducing the number of road miles the county plows, eliminating snowplow operator positions or changing some of the department's full-time equipment operator positions to seasonal positions.

The commissioners took no formal action on their 2010 budget, but they gave their staff direction on its development. Earlier this year, all three commissioners said they are willing to use some of the county's cash reserves to balance next year's budget. That will give the county latitude to possibly reduce its 10 percent across-the-board pay cut and limit the number of additional layoffs.

To balance next year's budget without the use of cash reserves, the county would have to leave the 10 percent pay reduction in place and eliminate about a dozen more positions.

The one projected bright spot in the 2010 budget, Sullivan said, is an expected $500,000 increase in property tax collections because of increases in the county's assessed valuation.

"Next year looks better," Sullivan said. "We'll see where it goes."

Commissioners cut position

Also Tuesday, the commissioners approved the elimination of a permit technician position in the Routt County Regional Building Department. The move is expected to save $12,500 this year and is the result of a substantial decrease in construction activity this year.

The layoff brings the Building Department's total personnel cuts this year to 4 1/2 positions. Earlier this year, three other county employees were laid off in other departments. Layoffs in the Routt County Regional Building Department are being handled separately because it is a fee-supported department.

"We must be aware that we are tied to the hills and valleys of the construction industry," Building Official Carl Dunham wrote in a staff report.

Comments

aichempty 5 years, 3 months ago

This is the wrong place to make cuts. The expertise tied up in Building Department personnel cannot be replaced by pulling in somebody with a CDL off the street to drive a plow truck.

The Building Department is responsible for the health and safety of the population. They do a good job, and the proof of it is that we don't see roof collapses, fires spreading between multi-family units, health and safety problems in public buildings, and all the other "invisible" things that we take for granted.

It's a real shame to see this happen. The building slowdown will turn around, and millions in income for county residents employed in construction will be delayed while permits wait in line to be reviewed and approved.

Carl's people more than earn their keep. That's more than you can say for a lot of people around here. This is a bad move.

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Suz 5 years, 3 months ago

Aichempty has taken care of the Building Department so I would like to address the Road and Bridge Department. I wonder if the commissioners realize that the equipment operators are the same people that plow the snow? How do you make that a seasonal position? The men with the CDL are the same men who run the graders year round. When these men aren't hauling gravel and fixing roads they are plowing snow or fixing the damage caused by long winters and muddy springs. And reducing the number of miles the county plows? What if it actually snows? The county has already taken away the overtime hours from these men so who will plow if it snows? This should be an interesting winter.

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bigfatdog 5 years, 3 months ago

Suz, i can see that you have never done actual business with the road/bridge department? talk about your typical governmental inefficiencies!!!for example, they replaced a cattle guard and just for the pre-inspection THREE employees show up in 3 different county vehicles. All THREE came down from Steamboat and All THREE headed back to Steamboat. Or watch them do the actual work....private sector would get it done in half the time, half the costs and half the equipment. Time to tighten the boot straps and see how everyones "cash for clunkers" new hybrid/electric cars do on our snow covered roads. i vote for smaller government and more personal responsibilty.

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Suz 5 years, 3 months ago

Bigfatdog is correct.....it all boils down to inefficiencies. And if the county cut out that kind of waste and lets be honest, some dead weight, wouldn't that cut the budget? They can hack away and any department they want, but until they cut the waste it will do no good. And you are correct in another thing, I do not do actual business with the Road and Bridge Department. But we in South Routt and other areas do appreciate having the roads plowed so that we may get to work in our clunkers.

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