County on budget track early

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The county is on track to reach its financial goals ahead of schedule, according to numbers presented to the Moffat County Board of Commissioners by budget analyst Tinneal Gerber.

Commissioners asked two years ago to establish a 30 percent reserve for county operating expenses by the time the 2008 budget hit. That goal will be reached by 2007 with the exception of one fund.

The Health and Welfare Department is currently at 26 percent reserve in its budget.

With that in place, the Moffat County commissioners voted Tuesday to adopt the proposed 2007, $47.4 million budget as presented.

Commissioners pointed out that The Memorial Hospital accounts for more than half of the proposed budget, with the actual county operating budget at $8.2 million, and the Road and Bridge Department receiving $6.3 million.

The school district, fire district, college and river districts all have separate mill levies.

"Last year, we made cuts of 5 percent (to each department) to balance the revenues and expenditures," Commissioner Tom Gray said. "We have reached the goals we set two years ago."

The board adopted a mill levy of 19.696 mils for the county, less than the 20.8 mil number approved by voters previously. That number falls within the 5.5 percent increase allowed by state statutes.

In other action, commissioners are taking under consideration a plan presented by County Assessor Suzanne Brinks to contract with Visual Lease Services to audit and evaluate oil and gas contracts to assure the county is getting its share of tax monies.

"With oil and gas exploration becoming greater each year, we need manpower to check wells and pipelines," Brinks said. "That means either hire a full-time employee or contract out the job."

Representatives from the school district and the college present at Tuesday's meeting had no objections to the proposal, as long as revenue increases exceed the amount paid by the county for the initial study.

Upon signing the memorandum of understanding with Visual Lease, the county would pay $198,000 for the study, followed by $30,000 annually to maintain the information.

As the county would be reimbursed for the initial cost before revenues were forwarded to the school, river and fire districts and the college, it will take time for approval by all the boards of directors involved, making a 2008 start for the program possible.

Incoming commissioner Tom Mathers recommended securing a guarantee on the yearly maintenance fee for a set time period.

The board addressed concerns about the confidentiality of information gathered, and the authority to enter property to conduct the assessment.

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