Moffat County's 2006 budget still unclear

Referendum 1A will determine finances

By BRANDON JOHANSSON

DAILY PRESS WRITER

Moffat County's budget for 2006 is a work in progress, awaiting the outcome of the November election.

County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber presented a proposed budget to the county commissioners Tuesday, but pending the outcome of Referendum 1A on the November ballot, commissioners aren't sure how much they will have to spend next year.

"We definitely still have some work to do," Gerber said.

Referendum 1A asks voters to exempt the county from revenue limits imposed by a law from 1913.

The law limits county revenues to 5.5 percent growth from one year to the next. If county revenues grow by 10 percent, for example, the county has to refund 4.5 percent.

According to the county's figures, the referendum would cost a homeowner about $20 per $100,000 in property value during the next two years. The referendum would cost a business $72 per $100,000 of property value.

The referendum -- which sunsets in five years -- will put about $1.2 million into the county's coffers in the next two years.

Gerber presented the commissioners with two budgets Tuesday, one for if Referendum 1A passes and one if it fails.

The county is required to approve a proposed budget by Oct. 15, which they did Tuesday, but the version they approved is by no means set in stone.

"It's subject to change," Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

If the referendum passes, the county will have $10,040,375 to spend in 2006. If it fails, the county will have $9,837,950.

But beyond the bottom line, commissioners don't know exactly how the budget will look.

In addition to Referendum 1A, commissioners still have to approve a system for longevity pay for county employees.

Gerber said that no matter what happens in the November election, the county will try to build budget reserves of 30 percent in nearly every county department.

The 30 percent reserve is needed so the county can operate the first four months of the year before taxes come in, Gerber said.

"If we do run into an emergency," she said, "we are going to be in big trouble if we don't start building these reserves."

The county will have a public meeting about the budget on Nov. 15. At that meeting, Gerber said there will be a much clearer picture of what the budget will look like.


Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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