County purchases put on hold

Ending balance down $2 million compared to previous years

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Any capital expenditures of more than $5,000 have been cut off for all county departments until after March 15, according to a memo sent out Tuesday afternoon by the Moffat County commissioners.

The decision to put a hold on those expenditures was made after the commissioners met with the administrative director and representatives from the treasurer's office to discuss a suspected budget shortfall in the early part of this year.

Officials stressed that the county was not in a budget crisis but said many more checks have been going out than have been received in recent weeks.

The ending balance for the month of January this year for Moffat County was $5 million, compared to $7.2 million in 2002, $7.7 million in 2001 and $8.5 million in 2000.

The $2 million discrepancy between this year and last caught the attention of Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele, who brought the balance to the attention of his fellow commissioners this week.

Steele said he was concerned that the county might have to sell long-term assets to pay the bills before the county begins to receive property tax revenue in late February and March.

But officials from the treasurer's office told the commissioner that selling assets would probably not be necessary if the county watches its spending in the next month until property tax revenues begin to trickle in.

Administrative Services Director Debra Murray said it is not unusual to run short on funds early in the year because most taxes have yet to be collected.

"A lot of governments don't allow any money to go out until March when they have their property tax revenue," Murray said.

Taking that into consideration every year will help, she said.

"That will save us from ever getting in this predicament again," she said.

Purchases that will have to be delayed include equipment for the Road and Bridge Department and county landfill and county vehicles, Murray said.

The reason this year's balance is significantly less than last year's balance, Murray said, is because of several large checks that have gone through in the last month, including an $800,000 payment for County Road 57, $483,000 for health insurance and $175,000 to the jail.

Several grant reimbursements have not been collected, including a $34,000 accounting grant, a $30,000 master plan grant, a $55,000 fire plan grant and a $9,713 emergency management grant.

Moffat County Treasurer Robert Razzano said he thought the county would probably be OK if it held off on major purchases.

"It will be close," Razzano said. "But we will get a lot more payments between now and the end

of the month."

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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