Routt County proposed budget includes snowplowing improvements, $5M airport project
November 27, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It will be safer and easier to travel in north Routt County when the snow flies if the county's 2018 budget proposal gets approved this month as presented.
The $60 million spending plan heading to the county commissioners includes an additional equipment operator that would provide extra snowplowing coverage in the northern part of the county.
"If there is an employee or someone to deal with extra plowing up here in North Routt, that would be a godsend for all of us," North Routt resident Nancy Mucklow said Monday after she learned of the budget proposal. "We have a ton of traffic up here and tons of families up here along with recreation. That main artery (Routt County Road 129) out of North Routt has to be plowed, and it has to be safe."
Mucklow noted school buses also have to make long trips on County Road 129.
The county in recent years has done a once-per-day snowplow route to the north that residents say takes place in the early morning hours. Mucklow said that isn't enough.
Last year, she was among a group of county residents who asked the county to increase the frequency of the winter plowing.
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They noted slush that builds up in the day freezes over and icy ruts often form on the road, making it hard to see the centerline.
In the budget proposal, county officials noted the road and bridge position that will improve the service in North Routt is a job that was actually lost during the economic recession as part of a workforce reduction.
The cost of the new position is listed at $58,000.
A call to the road and bridge department Monday to discuss the new position and what plowing schedule North Routt travelers can expect to see this winter wasn’t returned.
Overall, the entire county budget largely continues or slightly increases the county's level of service.
"We're not doing a whole lot of new stuff," county finance director Dan Strnad said last week.
Strnad noted the budget is also likely to include an additional $50,000 for a new detention deputy at the Routt County Jail, who will help alleviate some employee burnout at the facility as well as meet new demands caused by the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Other notable highlights of the budget include spending on the new shared law enforcement facility next to the county jail, as well as a new commercial air carrier apron at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.
That $5 million airport project, mostly funded by federal and state grants, should reduce congestion at the airport and allow for future expansion of commercial air service in the future.
Overall, the county budget is projecting $56 million in revenue and $60 million in expenses.
The county's base property tax revenue is projected to increase $647,000 next year, while sales tax is projected to go up 4 percent.
Unlike the city of Steamboat Springs, county officials are not proposing any significant service reductions in the budget.
For example, cuts to the city of Steamboat's recently adopted budget will have the bus running less frequently at night starting this winter.
A public hearing for Routt County's budget proposal is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. in the commissioner's hearing room.