County budget adopted

Commissioners OK $41.7 million in expenditures

Just minutes after the Moffat County commissioners approved the 2005 budget, Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Tim Jantz ran into the room, asking who set off the panic alarm.

It turned out that someone in the courthouse conference room triggered the alarm by accident.

But commissioners weren't at all panicked by this year's budget process.

Commissioner Darryl Steele commented about the relative simplicity of developing this year's $41.7 million budget while thanking financial analyst Tinneal Gerber for her work.

"It was a lot easier this year than it was last year," Steele said.

Moffat County's assessed value increased to $341,605,000, meaning the county will receive more property tax revenues, which account for about 17 percent of the overall budget. The 21.14 mill levy is expected to generate $7,221,537.

The general fund, which provides the money for most county expenses, is projected to finish 2004 with an ending fund balance about $500,000 greater than 2003's ending fund balance of $1.4 million.

Projections indicate the ending fund balance for 2005 should increase by another $200,000.

The increases allowed the commissioners to pass a resolution requiring county budgets to include ending fund balances of at least $2 million. Because of budget constraints last year, the commissioners were forced to pass a resolution dropping the ending fund balance requirement to $1.5 million.

No members of the public provided comments about the proposed budget during the time it was available for public comment, Gerber said. The commissioners accepted the proposed budget Nov. 10, but the comment period was open from October until Tuesday. State statute required the commissioners to certify a budget by today.

The budget is due to the state Department of Local Affairs on Jan. 31.

The oil and gas exemption fund and the mineral leasing asset fund are new funds in this year's budget.

The oil and gas exemption fund was created solely to hold money the county received as an exemption from growth limitations on taxes generated by new oil and gas production. The state limits such growth to 5.5 percent.

But the county applied for and received an exemption of $185, 734 from the limitation. The money can be used only for expenses on impacts from energy development. It's likely the Road and Bridge Department will use all that money to repair roads, Gerber said.

The commissioners created the mineral leasing asset fund to shore up dollars for when the energy industry dries up in Moffat County.

Gerber budgeted $50,000 in the fund, which will be generated by leases and royalties from the county's mineral interests. But she estimated the county would receive more revenue than that. No budgeted expenses were included in the mineral assets fund.

The Social Services and cemetery funds could see trouble.

The Social Services fund has been declining for the past several years, and Steele and Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos voiced concern about it. She thought commissioners might have to increase the .61 mill levy that partially funds Social Services.

The cemetery fund could have problems if the Moffat County sheriff doesn't provide the cemetery with an inmate trustee to perform labor.

The cemetery depends on two inmates for maintenance.

But the sheriff quit providing the cemetery with inmate labor when deputies discovered the inmates who worked there were smuggling cigarettes into the jail. Cigarettes are banned at the jail.

The $2.2 million jail fund is estimated to end 2005 with an ending fund balance of $30,000. That fund has struggled during the past few years and was in the red just two years ago.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.