Routt County’s 2017 budget plan would help fund shared law enforcement facility, major software upgrade
Steamboat Springs — Higher health insurance costs, funding for a shared law enforcement facility and a $1.6 million software replacement and upgrade project are among the highlights of Routt County’s 2017 budget proposal.
The county’s budget plan calls for $54.2 million in spending compared to $53.12 million in revenues, with the difference coming out of reserves.
The budget includes 3 percent more spending over this year.
County officials are currently projecting a $514,000 increase in property tax and an increase of $494,000 in sales tax next year.
But county finance director Dan Strnad said Wednesday that future gains in revenue remain “tentative” given the continued degree of uncertainty in the economy.
Still, the county has found room in its latest budget plan for several significant capital projects.
Strnad said favorable budget variables freed up some reserve money that is poised to go toward the construction of a new shared law enforcement facility with the city of Steamboat Springs.
The 2017 capital budget includes $300,000 for architectural design costs to expand the Routt County Sheriff’s Office’s administrative square footage as part of that facility.
The county is also planning to spend another $3 million on the construction of the facility, with $600,000 of that money coming from the anticipated sale of the land next to the Routt County Jail to the city, and $2.4 million in reserves.
Routt County commissioners and the Steamboat Springs City Council are currently negotiating over construction of the facility, which will house the city’s police department.
Strnad gave a broad overview of the county’s budget proposal to the press and a few members of the public at a meeting Wednesday.
Community members can weigh in on the budget proposal at a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 in the commissioners hearing room.
Rising health insurance costs weighed heavily on this year’s budget, Strnad said.
He said without any changes, the reserves in the county’s partially self-funded health insurance pool were projected to dry up.
In 2017, the county’s health insurance expenses are projected to increase $572,000, or 21 percent, over this year’s budget.
The county is planning to make some significant changes to keep reserves in the pool.
The county is increasing its contribution to the pool by $841,000 to a grand total of $4.2 million.
Employees will also see their overall contributions to the pool go up by $300,000, or 526 percent, next year.
The cost of the county’s PPO and high deductible plans will go up significantly for both the county and its employees next year.
As an example, Strnad said an employee’s annual contributions to the high deductible plan will go from $0 to $300 next year, and a family’s contribution will go from $0 to $1,500.
The county also increased its contributions to the plans.
“Through a change in plan design, the county anticipates reducing its claims expense by approximately $183,000, or 5 percent, through higher deductibles, higher out-of-pocket maximums and a decrease in co-insurance for the (high deductible) plan,” Strnad wrote in a budget summary.
A major software replacement project is also in the works at the county.
Strnad said the county’s current software, which controls such important functions as payroll and purchasing, needs to be replaced before December 2017.
The $1.6 million software replacement project is needed because the provider of the county’s current software is ending its support of the program at the end of next year.
“It’s a big undertaking,” Strnad said.
The county will need to hire four temporary full-time equivalents at an estimated cost of $255,000 to make the software switchover.
Read a detailed summary of the budget proposal below.
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