County finishes budget proposal

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Moffat County's financial administrator presented the 2005 proposed budget to the commissioners Tuesday. Balancing it was easier this year than last, Moffat County budget analyst Tinneal Gerber said.

Commissioner Les Hampton agreed. Unlike the last budget cycle, Hampton has not awoke at 2 a.m. to cut the budget.

The proposed budget has an ending fund balance of $2.54 million, but that does not include capital expenses or personnel requests, the commissioners stressed. Their goal is to finalize the budget with an ending fund balance of $1.9 million.

The balance could be greater if the county's budget wasn't restricted by a state law that limits property tax growth to 5.5 percent.

The county stands to lose $268,007 in property tax revenue this year, a decrease in the regular mill levy of .777.

"That's significant," Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

The commissioners intend to hold that money until next year, when they could introduce a ballot question asking taxpayers to approve county acceptance of the additional tax dollars. If the voters say no to the question, the taxes will be returned to taxpayers. But 60 percent will go to the top 10 taxpayers, including Craig Power Station companies and coal mines, Gerber said.

The county could see some savings when it receives insurance rate figures in November, Gerber said. She budgeted a 15 percent increase in insurance rates, but it will most likely be lower than that.

The commissioners also have asked the Moffat County Library director to tweak her budget so the library's reserves are no more than 30 percent of its budget. The budget calls for a $526,000 transfer from the general fund to the library budget.

Other major transfers include $955,000 in sales tax to the jail fund to pay debt on the Public Safety Center. The cemetery will receive a $70,000 transfer, which Gerber called very low. But the cemetery's situation could improve if it collects payment on outstanding bills.

The commissioners originally projected an ending fund balance of $1.7 million. Commissioner Darryl Steele said they'll spread the additional $200,000 thinly, considering each department's capital outlay requests.

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

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