County adopts ’08 budget | SteamboatToday.com

County adopts ’08 budget

Brandon Gee

Routt County Road & Bridge Equipment Operator Leonard Auter checks the oil in his winter road maintenance rig at the end of his shift on Tuesday afternoon at the county's shop in Steamboat Springs.

Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners quickly and easily passed its 2008 budget Tuesday afternoon. — The Routt County Board of Commissioners quickly and easily passed its 2008 budget Tuesday afternoon.

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners quickly and easily passed its 2008 budget Tuesday afternoon.

Commissioners Nancy Stahoviak and Doug Monger agreed to pass all four resolutions related to the budget with little discussion. Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush was absent. No members of the public attended the meeting to comment.

The $85.6 million budget includes $20.2 million devoted to personnel, $24.2 million to operations, $29.6 million for capital improvements and $2.2 million for debt service. The $85.6 million includes $9.4 million in transfers between county funds, which Monger noted makes the budget appear larger than it actually is.

Monger said the 2008 budget “reflects our continued support and value of our personnel” and “continues to fulfill the goals we’ve set in a county organizational structure.”

Monger said the bare-bones nature of county government is another reason its budget does not spark much passion or controversy.

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“It’s basic government-mandated things we have to keep providing,” Monger said.

There were some small changes to the budget since the last public hearing at which it was discussed, including a $21,412 decrease to voter-approved mill levies, a $1,082 decrease to the general fund and a change to all the mill levies. These changes were the result of an error by the county assessor’s office in calculating the assessed valuation in the city’s urban renewal authority at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

An incremental amount of property tax in the URA is diverted to the city to fund public improvements within the URA boundaries at the ski base. The incremental assessed valuation that has its tax diverted to the city was originally estimated at $5.5 million; the corrected value is $13.1 million. This valuation is subtracted from the overall county tax base, which either raises mill levies or, in the case of the fixed, voter-approved mill levies, decreases the amount of tax collected. The counties’ fixed mill levies fund the purchase of development rights, developmental disabilities program and museums.

One of the biggest players in the 2008 budget is the Road and Bridge Department, which will receive $20.4 million.Routt County Commissioners had hoped to devote even more money to road improvements by exempting county property taxes from a state statute that limits revenue growth, but voters rejected the proposal in the November election. Commissioners have decided to delay most of the planned road improvements past 2008 rather than draw substantially from county reserves.

The commissioners said the official adoption of the budget is typically simple, because all the hard work of preparation occurs in the weeks and months leading up to adoption.

“This part is (easy),” Stahoviak said Tuesday.

Monger agreed.

“I had my input into the budget as it was prepared,” he said.

The two also said the ease with which the budget was passed reflects a job well done by Routt County Finance Director Dan Strnad and the rest of the accounting staff.

With next year’s budget out of the way, county staff members are already preparing for 2009.

“Next year starts tomorrow,” County Manager Tom Sullivan said.