Routt County poised to pass budget that calls for $48.8 million in 2013 spending

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What: Routt County Board of Commissioners votes on 2013 budget

When: 3:05 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners' Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners is expected Tuesday to approve a 2013 budget calling for $48.8 million in expenditures, up 4 percent from 2012.

The new budget fully funds the county’s schedule of asphalt road overlays, something it was unable to do in 2012. County officials also anticipate matching federal grants to replace three bridges in the southwest corner of the county.

The 2013 budget includes $636,000 to restore the salaries of county employees to pre-2009 levels. County employees had their pay cut by 10 percent that year to help the county a period of economic uncertainty. The level of the pay cuts was trimmed to 5 percent in successive years.

The new budget calls for the county to draw down its reserves by $2.84 million in 2013. Anticipated revenues for 2013 are up 1 percent to $45.4 million. Actual reserve expenditures are not the same number as the difference between overall expenditures and revenues because of non-cash expenses, including depreciation, Finance Director Dan Strnad said.

Property tax collections from all sources will increase by about $146,000 in 2013, but the net revenue from the county’s base property tax revenue will increase only slightly.

The increase in property tax revenues is partially attributable to the fact that public school districts have hit their mill levy limits this year. As a result, state government is redistributing revenues collected from existing ownership tax on vehicles, and counties will benefit. Vehicles ownership taxes are not going up, Strnad said.

Another factor in county tax collections is that increases in county property taxes allowed under TABOR because of economic growth in the county and inflation will be significantly offset by abatements issued on 2012 taxes collected, Strnad said.

"In order to balance the budget, the county is continuing to analyze the budget wherever possible to increase revenues and decrease costs,” Strnad wrote. “The county is continuing to extend the life of equipment and infrastructure. For example, road chip and seal lives have been extended from five to seven years. The long-term forecast projects a balanced budget, which may not be viable because at some point in time, increases in compensation will need to be made to retain quality employees and improvements to roads will need to be made to meet public demands.”

If the commissioners approve the budget Tuesday, the bottom line number will be $57.4 million. The reason for the additional funds above the $48.8 million in planned expenditures is that the larger number includes amounts charged to each county department for its office space and maintenance, as well as funds transferred within the county from one fund to another, Strnad said.

"It's like transferring money from your savings to you checking account," Commissioner Doug Monger added.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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