In good fiscal health

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An audit of Moffat County's 2003 budget concluded that the Board of Commissioners finished 2003 better than they anticipated.

The full audit, conducted by McMahan and Associates of Avon, Colo., in accordance with state statute, showed that 2003 ended with $1,467,066 in the general fund.

That figure is 43 percent better than what commissioners expected to end the year with, but it's still more than $400,000 less than what they projected when they formulated the 2003 budget.

The commissoners' initial 2003 budget projected an ending balance of $1.9 million. Over the course of the year, they calculated they would end the year with only a $1 million fund balance and implemented cost-saving measures in the fall. The year-end $1.4 million figure is more than what they expected.

"The goal is pretty much the same, we just have a bit more flexibility. We'll still manage very conservatively. With numbers coming in better than expected, we'll work hard to ensure services, but it doesn't mean we're going to break out the check book and start writing checks," Commissioner Les Hampton said.

The savings should carry over into 2004, when the ending fund balance will hopefully be as high as $2 million, Commissioner Darryl Steele said when the final budget numbers were estimated in February. He said the county would continue to operate and spend conservatively.

The road and bridge fund also finished with more about 10 percent more money than had been expected. But the jail fund was more than 600 percent below estimates.

A second auditor is also working in the county courthouse. The county received a $500,000 grant from the state Department of Local Affairs in 2003. Terms of the grant required the county to perform an audit and develop a five-year budget plan.

Tinneal Gerber, Moffat County budget analyst, said the auditor was still meeting with department heads to identify areas of efficiency. That audit should be finished by the end of April, Gerber said.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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