Auditor lauds Moffat County Commission's spending practices

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Audrey Danner

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Tom Gray

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Tom Mathers

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At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, the purchase of a search and rescue ATV for the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office from Craig Power Sports for $8,563.

• Approved, 2-0, hiring a part-time housing authority technician for Sunset Meadows, a senior living community in Craig.

• Approved, 2-0, a 12-month lease for state electrical inspector Bill White that includes free rent, phone and Internet service.

— Commissioner Tom Gray was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

All five of Moffat County’s major government funds experienced growth in 2010, according to findings of an independent audit conducted by McMahon and Associates, LLC, an Avon-based firm.

Moffat County increased its net income by $5.2 million, according to the audit.

“I would categorize those as savings, efficiencies and departments working their budgets better,” commissioner Audrey Danner said.

Paul Backes, certified public accountant with McMahon and Associates, presented the audit report Tuesday to the Moffat County Commission.

“I think you guys have been very judicious in how you allocate resources,” Backes said. “This is clearly a good financial result in today’s environment.”

The general fund, the county’s largest account that pays for a majority of government services, increased by $3.8 million.

“That is a great number because it has increased,” Backes said.

“A lot of governments are trending downward, but you saw an increase and it was a large increase.”

As a policy, county officials attempt to maintain a 40-percent reserve in the general fund — 30 percent of operating costs and 10 percent for emergencies.

Maintaining a strong reserve balance is important to preserving the county’s economic health because of continued budget cuts at the state level, Backes said.

“Also, 63 percent of the county’s tax revenue is paid by just 10 taxpayers,” Backes said. “If you were to lose one of those, you would need strong reserves to weather that hit.”

Moffat County’s top 10 taxpayers, according to officials, are:

• Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Inc. — $5.1 million

• Wexpro Company — $3.4 million

• Colowyo/Kennecott — $1.7 million

• PacifiCorp-Electricity Operations — $1.3 million

• Rockies Express Pipeline — $1.2 million

• Chevron USA, Inc. — $1.1 million

• Salt River Project — $1 million

• Trapper Mining, Inc. — $982,470

• Public Service Company of Colorado — $715,089

• Wyoming Interstate Gas — $530,926

Commissioner Tom Mathers agreed with the county’s emphasis on maintaining reserve funds.

He said there are differing philosophies on how government should manage its annual budget.

“I know some people who think we should spend everything that we get in every year,” Mathers said. “They think we should never have a balance left over, which I totally disagree with.”

Other major county funds that increased last year were road and bridge ($158,002); human services ($126,286); Moffat County Jail ($216,273); and lease purchase payments ($24). All non-major funds also increased by $967,929.

Backes said he believes the county commissioners deserve credit, as well.

“Whatever you’re doing is producing good financial results,” he said. “You have done a wonderful job controlling spending.”

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