Supplemental budgeting covers up unbudgeted expenditures

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To the Editor:

This letter is in response to the Dec. 31 Craig Daily Press article "County tweaks 2003 budget for final time."

Only in Moffat county is a supplemental budget considered a "floating line item used to cover unexpected departmental expenses."

CRS 29-1-109 clearly defines a supplemental budget and appropriation. "If, after the adoption of the budget, the local government receives unanticipated revenues, the governing body may authorize the expenditure of such funds by enacting a supplemental budget and appropriation by duly advertised resolution. Such resolution must set forth in full the source and amount of revenue, the purpose for which such revenues are being budgeted and appropriated, and the fund which shall make such supplemental expenditure."

Supplemental budgets as employed in Moffat County are nothing more than an after-the-fact resolution to cover-up spending that occurred without the requisite prior appropriation. They are called "housekeeping resolutions" by county officials, and serve to balance accounts before the auditor catches the spending beyond appropriation. In spite of the "tweaking," several spending categories had expenditures far in excess of their appropriation.

How many taxpayers are aware that Resolution 2003-61, passed on Dec. 15, transferred $221,516.32 from the road and bridge fund to the general fund, in an effort to maintain $1.5 million in the general fund. That money is dedicated by law and the BOCC's own Financial Management Policy passed by Resolution 2003-8 on Jan. 13.

That policy states "the road and bridge fund is used to account for the county's share of state revenues that are legally restricted for the maintenance of highways, and to account for property taxes and other revenues restricted for highway and road purposes."

Such transfers are commonplace in Moffat County, and are overlooked by the county's auditors. However, I'm sure the state auditor and attorney general will take a serious look at this and several like transfers totaling several hundred thousand dollars of dedicated funds.

They are also looking at the $1 million in sales tax revenue that was illegally shifted from capital projects.

And then there are the several unlawful transfers between funds as "loans" that were not repaid in the year that they occurred. Maybe the commissioners have an explanation. There's lots more!

Stan Hathhorn

A Concerned Moffat County Taxpayer

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