Moffat County facing budget cuts

County commission meeting with departments to tighten budgets

In the face of revenue shortfalls, Moffat County is looking for ways to tighten its belt.

The board of county commissioners plans to meet with many of its departments to hear suggestions and ideas of ways it can ease the budget deficit for both immediate and long-term solutions.

The commission met Tuesday with the Road and Bridge Department and Moffat County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber to finalize the department’s budget and brainstorm money saving ideas.

The Road and Bridge Department, whose budget without grants was $6.6 million in 2009, has seen $833,000 in cuts for 2010 because of a lack of incoming taxes.

Road and Bridge receives most of its funding from highway users and sales taxes, among others.

“We just needed a bit of direction,” Road and Bridge Department Director Bill Mack said. “We just had the discussion about what sorts of scenarios we might see as times could get rough.”

Mack said they also discussed upcoming projects such as repairs to the swinging bridge and culverts that needed to be built.

“In looking forward, there appears to be drastic reductions in tax revenue,” commissioner Audrey Danner said. “We are working to anticipate for those reductions and examine how to reorganize our services that we provide with the money that we have.”

Moffat County is projecting it will see about a $6.3 million shortfall in total revenue for 2010 from 2009.

Total projected revenue for 2010 will be $29.3 million, down from 2009’s $35.7 million.

To balance the budget, the county plans to reduce expenditures and pull from the reserve ending fund balance, among other measures.

The biggest expenditures the county will look to cut are capital projects such as larger repairs of buildings, asphalt and equipment.

“We have a small amount of capital outlet in budgets already just to stay on track,” Gerber said. “It’s not anywhere near what we have been doing for capital projects in the past.”

A portion of the money that funded previous county capital projects was provided through Colorado Department of Local Affairs grants. Last year, the Road and Bridge Department received $2.6 million in DOLA grants.

However, the county won’t be seeing any money from DOLA this year, Danner said.

As result, a majority of capital projects will be scaled down until the economy rebounds, Gerber said.

“Capital is going to be how we balance everything, we have to determine what we need,” she said. “You can (cut capital) for maybe a couple of years, but the problem is that if that this goes longer, we’ll get so far behind it makes it almost impossible to get caught back up.”

Danner agrees that the county cannot afford long-term capital cuts.

“We significantly already cut the budget for Road and Bridge,” she said. “We cannot do that long term. That doesn’t address the bigger issue. It’s not a permanent solution.”

The commission already has met with the Weed and Pest Management Department and plans to meet with many others over the course of the year.

“We are asking all departments to look at their efficiencies and how they might be able to do more with less,” Danner said.

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