Garfield County offers its 2014 Proposed Budget for public review

October 15, 2013

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Close scrutiny of expenditures and the setting of reasonable fiscal goals are necessary elements of the 2014 Garfield County Proposed Budget, which the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) received Tuesday, October 15, for its consideration.

The new budget reflects a stern 26 percent decrease in property tax revenue, stemming from lower assessed valuations in Garfield County. An 18 percent increase of sales tax collections, however, and other tax revenue will soften the blow somewhat, resulting in an expected $11 million drop in revenues for 2014. The good news is property tax revenue is forecasted to rebound in 2015.

Despite the decrease in revenues, the balanced operating budget presented will still provide county services at the same levels they are now. Careful scrutiny and planning for 2014 centered on the county budgeting closer to actual expenditures from previous years. And, while the year end 2013 fund balance is estimated to be at $129 million, the proposed budget for 2014 still provides for a $105 million fund balance at year end.

Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey introduced the presentation and updated the BOCC on 2013 year-to-date accomplishments, including major real estate transactions, the acquisition of a contract to deliver water*, and continued direct investment in municipal infrastructure improvements.

Following a kickoff presentation in June, a budget review committee composed of Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, County Finance Director Ann Driggers, and Gorgey conducted a line item review of the budget with every county administrative department. The county’s elected officials also participated in individual meetings.

“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.” The BOCC had requested county staff create a balanced operating budget, maintain current staffing levels, and ensure budget expenditures reflected actual expenditures as nearly as possible.

Driggers presented the 2014 proposed figures developed by Garfield County elected officials and administrative department heads Tuesday. The county plans to use excess funds from operations for capital and discretionary projects. As in years past, the BOCC will refine its policy-driven strategic plan as part of the public hearing process, and will develop a multi-year capital management plan for the continued prioritization of future capital needs.

County revenues for 2014 are expected to be at just over $101 million. Proposed expenditures would be nearly $126 million, which when offset by carry forwards of just over $14 million, will result in about $10 million in new proposed capital projects. A carry forward is usually a construction project budgeted in full in the first year of the project, but then carried forward to future budget years as the project progresses.

As directed, the proposed budget decreases operating expenditures, maintains current staffing levels, provides for a reduction in personnel costs-despite increases in health insurance, and allows a three percent performance-based pay increase and contingencies. The proposed 2014 operating budget presented is balanced.

Citizens can review the proposed budget by visiting the county manager’s office at the Garfield County Administration Building, 108 8th Street, Suite 200, Glenwood Springs. Public hearings are scheduled on the 2014 Proposed Budget October 22 at 8 a.m., and October 23 at 1 p.m., both at the address just above, and more hearings may be planned. The final 2014 budget will be adopted December 9 at 8 a.m.

*This was clarified after delivery of this press release, from “the acquisition of water rights” to “the acquisition of a contract to deliver water”, which more closely represents the document’s purpose.