The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved the county’s 2015 budget Tuesday afternoon, with that budget showing more than $10 million in capital outlay for 2015, as well as a new strategic reserve.
An overview of the budget was presented to the BoCC prior to the budget hearing in which the budget was adopted, the mill levy was set and budget appropriations were made.
“This budget is the result of a lot of hours of work,” County Administrator Bentley Henderson said in presenting the budget, calling it “a very good working document for Archuleta County.”
Overall, Henderson and Finance Director Larry Walton characterized the budget as conservative and, in some cases, very conservative, with “no reliance on speculation.”
The operational portion of the budget, the pair said, will be fully supported by “reliable, sustainable revenue streams,” though the county will dip into unassigned and unrestricted fund balances for one-time costs, including some capital projects.
Overall, the county is set to begin 2015 with $16,203,147, taking in $21,053,331 in revenues and expending $26,023,658, projecting that the county would end the year with $11,232,820.
In terms of overall staffing within the county organization, Henderson said three full-time equivalents (FTEs) will be added to the county’s roster in 2015. That increase will take the county to 151 FTEs, from 148 in 2014.
Too, Henderson said employee pay scales and employee pay rates will increase 3 percent as a cost-of-living adjustment, and the county will absorb a 10-percent increase in medical insurance premiums instead of passing on that increase to the employees.
Following the budget presentation, all three commissioners were complimentary of the budget and county staff, with the trio also acknowledging the county’s difficult financial past, when the county was millions of dollars in the red.
“I’m just so proud of this county,” board chair Clifford Lucero said, adding later that the county is no longer the laughing stock of the state. “We’re back on the map.”
Following are additional details on the capital expenditures budgeted across all of the county’s funds, as well as additional details on the county’s two largest funds, the general fund and road and bridge fund.
The county’s 2015 budget allows for $10,234,804 in capital expenditures across seven funds, with the majority falling in the road and bridge and airport funds.
• Within the road and bridge fund, Henderson explained that an increased portion of the county’s property tax revenue would go to the road and bridge fund in 2015 (about $500,000) and, according to his presentation, that distribution change would “reflect a dedicated commitment to infrastructure improvements.”
That additional funding, paired with $1.5 million appropriated from the road and bridge fund balance and grant funding, will make for nearly $3 million in capital expenditures for the fund.
Of that, $2 million is anticipated to go toward more significant road projects that may include a restructuring of Trujillo Road (County Road 500) from the town limits to the county’s transfer station, work on Cloud Cap Avenue, a chip and seal project on Park Avenue, additional gravel on roads, and other possible projects in line with the county’s five-year road plan.
Another $993,499 is set to go toward the completion of the Rio Blanco bridge south of Pagosa Springs and near U.S. 84. Of that funding, 80 percent is from a grant and 20 percent is a county match.
• The airport fund is slated to see nearly $6 million in capital expenditures, with $5,985,139 slated to go toward the completion of a parallel taxiway, as well as applying a fog coat and sealing the entire runway.
Of that funding, the vast majority is grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation Aeronautics, with the county contributing about $350,000.
That $350,000 from the county’s coffers, Walton noted in a later interview, is the same amount the county has been paying in debt service for the fixed-base operations building at the airport, which was fully paid off in 2014.
• In the general fund, $510,000 is set aside for capital expenditures, with those expenditures including deferred maintenance needs, a possible new boiler for the Archuleta County Detention Center, painting of the courthouse and exterior of the county’s new administration building, and the purchase of a document scanner for the building and planning departments.
• In the fleet fund, $140,000 is slated to go for a new trackhoe for the Road and Bridge Department and $104,000 is budgeted for three pickups for the same department.
An additional $70,000 is budgeted for two Chevy Tahoes for the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office patrol, and $30,000 is budgeted for a “contingency vehicle.”
• In the 1A fund, $232,166 is slated to be spent on the replacement of the courthouse roof.
• In the Conservation Trust Fund, which is fed by state lottery proceeds, $150,000 is budgeted for a new, covered riding arena that the BoCC previously pledged support for.
• In the solid waste fund, $20,000 is slated to go toward two roll-off containers for the Arboles Transfer station to transport waste to the landfill.
Overall, the general fund is set to begin 2015 with a beginning fund balance of $10,642,235, with total revenues for the fund estimated at $9,183,840.
Included in that revenue projection is about $3,726,871 from property taxes and revenue from sales tax, projected to bring in $1,781,586.
In a later interview, Walton said the sales tax projection used was the current-year projection (what is expected to be generated in 2014), meaning that no anticipated revenue increases, such as from Wal-Mart, are included.
Expenditures in the fund total $11,987,872 including capital outlay, making for an ending fund balance of $7,838,203.
Also included in the general fund this year, however, is a new strategic reserve.
The policy regulating the county’s strategic reserve was passed via resolution at Tuesday’s meeting, detailing that the strategic reserve will be equal to four months of budgeted general fund operating expenditures.
The purpose of the new reserve, Henderson and Walton explained, is to give the county time to react to any unforeseen economic downturns, or downturns that happen quickly. That reserve is budgeted at $2,808,963.
The new reserve is in addition to a 2011 policy that dictates that the county is to have three month’s worth of operating reserves on hand to ensure the county has adequate cash flow before property tax revenues and other funds filter into the county each calendar year. That reserve is budgeted at $2,107,472.
An additional reserve required by TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) is 3 percent of the county’s total adjusted fund revenue and, for 2015, is budgeted at $289,610.
Road and bridge fund
The road and bridge fund is set to begin 2015 with a fund balance of $4,070,895.
With the additional portion of the property tax revenue (making for a total of $1,331,025 from property taxes), the fund is set to take in $5,909,475 in revenue.
Expenditures, including a dip into reserves for capital expenses, is budgeted at $7,477,915, making for an ending fund balance of $2,502,455.