Increased property tax revenue boosts 2015 Garfield County budget
October 3, 2014
GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County’s 2015 proposed budget reflects a 10 percent increase in property tax revenue, stemming from higher assessed valuations in Garfield County. The valuations increased mainly because of the increasing price of natural gas. Sales tax revenues are also expected to increase. This is a promising offset of the 2014 budget season, which had suffered a 26 percent decrease in revenue.
The 2015 Garfield County proposed budget, which the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) received Tuesday, October 1, is now available for public review. Public hearings are scheduled on it October 14 at 8 a.m., October 16 at 8 a.m., and October 21 at 8 a.m., at 108 8th Street in Glenwood Springs. The BOCC is expected to adopt the final 2015 budget November 17 at 8 a.m.
In the budget, the county’s proposed operating expenditures would increase by less than one half percent, and are exceeded by revenues in excess of $7 million, or eight percent. These excess operating revenues will be used to fund capital projects and provide discretionary funding in 2015. Proposed capital projects, mainly road and bridge, airport, landfill and fairgrounds projects, could bring the total fund balances to $102 million at year end.
Proposed expenditures may decrease from the 2014 adopted budget. The decrease of nearly six percent, or $7 million, is because significant road and bridge infrastructure projects were completed in 2014. As directed, the proposed budget has moderate increases in operating expenditures, staffing levels, and personnel costs- including increases in health insurance costs, a three percent performance-based pay increase, and contingencies.
County revenues for 2015 are expected to be at just over $106 million. Proposed expenditures would be $128 million, including just over $13 million from projects budgeted in 2014, but that are continuing into 2015. The county may proceed with $8.5 million in new proposed capital projects.
Following a kickoff presentation in June, the county’s elected officials participated in individual budget planning meetings. In addition, a budget review committee, composed of Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey, Finance Director Ann Driggers, and Deputy County Manager Kevin Batchelder conducted a line-item review of the budget with every county administrative department.
“It is my philosophy that we need to have a balanced budget,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who represents the commissioners in the line-by-line budget review. “Our revenues must equal or exceed our expenses, and we (should) have at least one year of operating expenses in reserve. In addition, we have ensured the county is debt free.” The proposed 2015 operating budget presented is balanced.
The BOCC had requested county leaders create balanced operating budgets and ensure any increases in personnel and expenditures are necessary for continued provision of county services to citizens.
“I appreciate the hard work from all of our elected officials and department heads,” said Jankovsky. “In every instance, they came back with an efficient, defensible budget, consistent with our policy directives.”
Now the board will refine its policy-driven strategic plan as part of the public hearing process with citizen input, and will develop a multi-year capital management plan for the continued prioritization of future capital needs.
Citizens can review the proposed budget online at www.garfield-county.com, or may visit the county manager’s office in the Garfield County Administration Building, 108 8th Street, Suite 200, Glenwood Springs.