County commissioners start tweaking the budget

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It was a day of feast and famine for the Moffat County commissioners as they worked on the 2005 budget.

As soon as the commissioners decided to set aside the Road and Bridge Department's request, which initially exceeded projected revenues by $728,000, they faced the Moffat County Library budget, which commissioners say has been overfunded for the past few years.

By the end of the budget workshop, the commissioners were looking at a general fund balance of just $1.5 million.

"Guys, we got to get out the old knife and do some cutting," Commissioner Darryl Steele said when he saw the numbers.

The commissioners already had done some whittling on Road and Bridge's equipment requests, which totaled nearly $1 million. They discussed not chip-and-sealing Moffat County Road 57, a project that would cost $250,000, recognizing that for every year that they skip, they could be taking two years of life off the road. The county just finished paving that road in 2002.

By cutting that project and not purchasing or making lease payments on three pieces of new equipment, while putting $400,000 of money earned from mineral leases into the department's fund, Commissioner Les Hampton suggested they could get the equipment requests to less than $500,000.

The commissioners set an informal goal of building the Road and Bridge reserves to $900,000.

"That's important in case we have a bad winter," Steele said.

The commissioners criticized the library's budget request, saying the Library Board was once again budgeting more than it needed. They said they would allocate the library $550,000 and would instruct the Library Board to tweak its numbers to fit that amount.

The library's reserve should be about 30 percent of its operating expenses, Steele said.

That's the percentage he'd like all county department reserves to be at.

That would mean at the end of 2005 the library reserve would be at $200,000, about $30,000 less than it's estimated to be at the end of this year.

The commissioners briefly looked at the jail fund before deciding to send it back to the Sheriff's Office to have numbers readjusted.

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

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