Commissioners chop services, personnel |

Commissioners chop services, personnel

Commissioners make final 2004 budget cuts

Amy Hamilton

Moffat County Commissioners issued final decisions Monday morning to balance the 2004 budget including cuts to a wide variety of county services and a handful of personnel.

Commissioners and county budget planners worked up until the last minute in the past few weeks to finalize the details of roughly $400,000 in cuts to meet the Dec. 15 budget deadline. Since shortfalls became evident last summer, commissioners have cut almost $1 million to balance the 2004 budget.

County officials expect the 2004 general fund balance to come in at $1.7 million. That amount is $200,000 less than a former resolution that states the fund should be balanced at $1.9 million. To rectify the situation, commissioners amended the resolution Monday to reflect the general fund maintain a balance of at least $1.5 million.

Commissioners said many of the cuts were a compromise among the board.

“We did not all agree on the whole package of cuts,” said Commissioner Darryl Steele. “This is something that we felt we could live with. It’s in the best interest of Moffat County taxpayers.”

A planning director position has been cut from full- to part-time. The equivalent of 1.7 part-time positions at the Museum of Northwest Colorado have been cut — which leaves a total of two full-time positions at the museum.

Effective by the spring, the county will be down three full-time positions.

Commissioners chose to keep those positions on until the end of March when they expect to review the audited figures from the 2004 budget. If budget figures come in higher than expected at that time, commissioners may choose to keep those positions.

“We tried to make (the cuts) so it affects the least amount of people and services,” said Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos. “This was the basis of a lot of our decisions.”

Commissioners decided to keep the Shadow Mountain Clubhouse open into the new year in the hopes of finding funding for the often-used community facility. The Interfaith Food bank has headquarters in the facility and a host of swimmers use its pool. Some weddings and other events have already been booked at the site with plans that extend past the March date when it is poised closure.

Corrie Scott, who is planning a yearly political event at the site, will have to find somewhere else to hold the function.

“I think it’s unfortunate that they have to close a place that is used by the entire community,” Scott said.

Yet she questioned if the inexpensive cost to rent the facility was more of a hindrance than a help to keeping the place open.

“The facility is very reasonable to rent,” she said. “Maybe that’s part of the problem.”

It costs about $50 the rent the facility for the day, including a down payment of $500. That price can’t be matched to rent a facility anywhere, especially in the larger markets, Scott said.

Despite extensive budget cuts that county commissioners finalized Monday, the board reiterated an optimistic budget outlook for the future.

“I think the budget is on the upswing,” Raftopoulos said. “We look better than we did a year ago. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

While the impacts of the recent cuts may not be immediately felt, the effects of a lengthy and often contentious battle over bucks this year has reverberated throughout the workplace. Moffat County employs 253 workers.

“When they start cutting jobs, I think it affects everybody,” said County Clerk Elaine Sullivan when asked about morale among employees. “It has a domino effect.”

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or

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