Commissioner says strong economy supports county’s $75 million spending plan | SteamboatToday.com

Commissioner says strong economy supports county’s $75 million spending plan

The Routt County government offices at the historic courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County presented its budget for 2019 during a public hearing Tuesday night, with Finance Director Dan Strnad projecting a balanced budget backed by a good economy.

The county is proposing a spending plan that totals just over $75 million next year.

Commissioner Doug Monger said county finances look particularly good in light of the huge capital cost of the new Combined Law Enforcement Facility, which is currently under construction on the west side of Steamboat Springs. The building will house the Steamboat Springs Police Department, the Routt County Sheriff's Office and the emergency communications center.

The county has included $4 million in the 2019 budget to fund its remaining contribution to the facility.

"It's a big deal we were able to cash fund $6.1 million of the cost," Monger said.

While the budget shows an increase in capital expenses of 30 percent, reserves are covering most of that increase.

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The county is expected to generate 20 percent more revenue for 2019.

Sales tax is expected to grow by 7 percent next year, and the county is anticipating a 4.2 percent increase in property tax revenue.

"We budgeted for the possibility of a federal grant coming in for an airport terminal expansion," Monger said.

The county's expenses are budgeted to rise by 23 percent in 2019. This increase includes the cost of the law enforcement facility, which will be covered by reserves.

The biggest cost increase for the county other than CLEF is personnel costs with a $353,000 increase in health insurance costs to keep county jobs competitive with the private sector, Strnad said.

The number of county employees will remain the same in the coming year.

"We're holding our employee count similar to 2018," Monger said. "The killer in a budget is how many more people you add because once you add an employee, they hardly ever go away."

In the meantime, Monger said the county is budgeting conservatively but with the idea that the economy in Routt County will remain strong for the next year.

No public comment was offered during the hearing. The budget will be adopted by Routt County commissioners at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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