Routt County approves 2022 budget
The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved the 2022 budget Tuesday, anticipating an $18 million increase in spending from last year.
The increased spending comes as the county is seeing revenue far exceeds what they were budgeted for this year.
Not factoring in property taxes, other revenue, such as sales taxes, are projected to be up 34%. The budget also reflects money the county received through various federal COVID-19 relief measures.
“I think it is important that we acknowledge that it’s obvious that this budget does recognize a significant increase in revenues over what we have had in the past,” said Commissioner Tim Corrigan before voting to approve the budget Tuesday. “Those funds are largely dedicated funds, such as improvements at the airport.”
Tuesday’s approval was largely procedural, as much of the work to assembly the budget has been ongoing for months, and the final budget brief outlining specifics was presented last month.
The most significant line item in 2022’s budget earmarks $14.1 million to fully fund construction of the new Health and Human Service’s building near the county’s downtown Steamboat Springs campus.
Overall, Routt County plans to spend just over $87 million next year while still maintaining a reserve fund of nearly $53 million. The largest county expense is for personnel, taking up 37% of the total.
This includes $2.5 million set aside to sort out changes outlined in a staff salary survey reviewing the equity of pay in positions across the county and about $400,000 for better benefits that start on day one, which county officials hope will ease hiring issues.
One thing that isn’t outlined in the budget is how commissioners will spend about $5 million in stimulus dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. Rather than deciding on this spending during the traditional budget process, commissioners are opting to take their time and involve the community in deciding how it will be spent.
A survey sent to residents in October showed that addressing affordable housing, bettering broadband infrastructure and providing increased pay to child care workers topped a list of spending ideas.
A decision on how to spend this money doesn’t have to be made until the end of 2024, with the money actually needing to be spent by the end of 2026.
In November, Corrigan said commissioners likely wouldn’t make any decisions on this money in the “very near future.”
“We’re going to be spending some time figuring this out,” Corrigan said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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