By Randi Pierce
The first draft of Archuleta County’s 2013 budget was made public Thursday, showing a continued struggle with declining revenue, along with a continued strengthening of the county’s financial standing.
“As I think the commissioners are aware, this is just the beginning of the budgetary meetings,” said County Administrator Greg Schulte.
The commissioners will now hold a series of budget hearings between Oct. 29 and Nov. 9, before the final budget is adopted at 3 p.m. on Dec. 11.
“Comparing the general fund balance from 2010 to 2013, there is a significant increase of over seventy percent. This illustrates the strengthening of the county’s financial position of the last three years,” County Finance Director Diane Sorenson said.
Sorenson also commented on the resolution the commissioners adopted in 2011 to establish adequate levels of Committed Fund Balance to be maintained to ensure stable cash flow and financial stability.
“We are in compliance,” Sorenson said, meaning that the Committed for Working Capital line item is budgeted in 2013 for three months of operations at $2.1 million.
Overall, the county projects ending 2012 with $26,873,091 in total revenues and anticipates revenues for 2013 to total $26,122,370.
The largest source of revenue in 2013 is expected to be intergovernmental funds — grants, state and federal funding, Payment in Lieu of Taxes, and more — at 40 percent of total revenue.
Included in that funding is the $3.5 million in federal funds the county will use to reconstruct Piedra Road.
Although a non-assessment year, property tax declined 2 percent ($5,780,000) from last year, and sits at 22 percent of the county’s expected revenues for 2013.
That decline, Sorensen noted, is from a combination of lot consolidations, tax abatements and other similar factors.
Sales tax is the county’s third-largest anticipated source of revenue, and is projected to remain flat at $3 million.
Other sources of revenue for the county include intra-governmental charges, such as the Fleet Fund charges to other funds. Sorenson did note that the Fleet Fund must recover the full cost of services provided.
In terms of the budget, the county’s projected expenditures are shown by function (services provided), rather than by fund.
The function expected to expend the most money in 2013 is highways and streets, which includes the county’s Road and Bridge activities.
Expenditures for the function are projected to reach $8,859,127 — 32.6 percent of the county’s overall expenses. The amount is also an increase of 35.5 percent from 2012, and is directly related to the $4 million slated to be spent reconstructing Piedra Road, and funds set to be used for replacement of the Rio Blanco bridge.
General government functions are expected to be 22.6 percent of 2013 expenditures, and includes all elected officials’ offices except for the sheriff and coroner.
The largest increase in terms of percentages comes under the judicial and legal umbrella in the form of the Fairfield Settlement fund, which the county received when Fairfield went bankrupt. The entire fund balance has been budgeted for 2013, though no expenses are on the horizon and criteria for the fund is strict.
No capital outlay purchases are set to be made from the Road and Bridge Fund in 2013.
The county’s debt service is expected to decrease in 2013. Capital outlay
Capital outlay is projected to be significant in 2013, possibly reaching nearly $1.3 million, with several projects listed for funding in the draft budget.
Approved in 2012, the county is anticipated to acquire a loader and broom attachment in 2013. Much of the cost of the assets will be paid through an FAA grant, matched by just over $15,000 of county funds.
Remaining funding from 1A that has been dedicated for facilities is currently budgeted for a VOIP telephone system, Internet services and network, and to install broadband fiber under a state grant (the county’s match is 10 percent).
Funds from 1A Facilities funding is also slated to be used to develop the first phase of the county’s 95-acre park located along U.S. 84, along with money from the Conservation Trust Fund. Those expenditures (totaling $411,000), however, are contingent upon the county receiving a grant for the project from Great Outdoors Colorado.
In the Fleet Fund, $150,000 is currently budgeted to begin a vehicle replacement plan for the county’s aging fleet. It is the first year funding has been designated for the purpose of systematic vehicle replacement.
Salaries and benefits are expected to account for 29 percent of the county’s budget in 2013.
Overall, the county looks to employ .93 fewer FTEs (Full-Time Equivalents) in 2013 than in 2012, with the difference coming from adjustments made in several offices throughout the county.
The county’s total FTE count for 2013 is listed at 151.68 in the 2013 budget — the lowest since 2007’s 147.33 FTEs (which was a decrease of 27 FTEs from the year prior, when the county was in the midst of its financial crisis).
Schulte made a closing comment to the board that in anticipation of a decrease in property tax valuations in 2014 “We are poising for what we believe will be a decrease in 2014,” Schulte said, adding, “We are not done yet.”