County commissioners approve 2000 budget

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Dec. 15 marked the deadline for Moffat County Board of Commissioners and other county officials to approve the first county budget in the new millennium.

Commissioners rapped things up a day early, approving the 2000 budget on Dec. 14. Commissioners seemed pleased with the numbers. Estimated expenditures for 2000 increased $12,151,000 from $30,314,443 in 1999 to $42,465,451 in 2000. Most of the increase is due to building the Moffat County Public Safety Center, scheduled to open in February 2001.

Total revenue is expected to go up by $2,184,584, from $30,878,168 in 1999 to $33,062,752 in 2000. While the finances may look dismal for the county, it is an illusion, according to Debra Murray, county administrative assistant.

"We're planning to actually spend a lot of the money to complete the Moffat County Public Safety Center," said Murray. "Most of the money will come from bonds and grants that aren't included with the revenues. A lot of expenditures go out next year (2000) because of the safety center."

Other significant changes to the budget for the upcoming year include a $25,000 increase to the Sheriff's Department and Moffat County Jail budgets.

"The Sheriff's Department is planning to hire a jail administrator, a new sergeant and a detention officer in October," said Murray. "We need to get some of these people on board in 2000 to help operate the new public safety center."

Another increase in the budget is due to the human resources director hired earlier in 1999.

"This year (2000) she will work through the full year so expenses will increase for that," said Murray.

All full-time Moffat County employees received a 3 percent raise for 2000 which will also increase expenditures, according to Murray.

The budget contains a resolution that requires 35 percent of the expenditures to be saved in case of an unforeseen problem. The reserve fund is expected to be well above the mandatory 35 percent for 2000. The 35 percent of expenditures would be $2,662,437, but in 2000 the fund is expected to be $109,306 over the required 35 percent.

While Murray is pleased with the 2000 budget, she believes it can be confusing due to the public safety center project.

Of the excess expenditures, about $8 million can be attributed to grants and bonds not shown in revenues. Another $1 million can be attributed to The Memorial Hospital. According to Murray, a county mill levy tax already in place will give The Memorial Hospital $475,000 and the other $525,000 will come from a reserve fund at the hospital.

"You've got the public safety center and the hospital it makes it a little bit deceiving," said Murray. "I believe that we have a pretty good balanced budget."

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