Moffat County approves preliminary 2017 budget in accordance with anticipated revenue decrease
Final budget must be submitted by Dec. 15
Anticipating a big hit to property tax revenue in 2017, Moffat County Commissioners are taking extra measures in calculating next year’s budget, which they approved a preliminary version of on Tuesday morning.
The proposed $37.8 million budget is $5.7 million, or 6.5 percent, less than the 2016 budget and anticipates an 11 percent, or $1.1 million, decrease in property tax revenue due to a $52 million property valuation decrease.
“That has a lot to do with the declassification of our energy resources,” Commissioner Chuck Grobe said.
Sales tax revenue is projected to hold at 2016 levels but since 2012, property tax revenue has steadily decreased for the county.
In 2011, the county’s property tax valuation was $487 million, leading to $10 million collected from property taxes.
The 2017 budget anticipates a valuation of $408 million that would result in $8.5 million in property tax revenue.
The $78.9 million decrease in property tax evaluation since 2011 means a 16 percent reduction in overall property tax collected by the county.
“That’s where we’re really struggling and seeing our income dropping,” Grobe said.
Property taxes have been dropping for a number of years but in 2017 the county is taking a “little bit larger hit,” Grobe said.
With decrease revenues, the county employed a new budgeting approach for 2017 called “priority budgeting.”
The process involved asking all of the county departments to work their budgets based on 2015 actual expenses plus two percent for the consumer price index.
“This year we went through every department and looked at actual expenditures for 2015,” Grobe said.
As a result, the commissioners were able to reduce the 2017 preliminary budget by $2 million.
Grobe said the budget is sitting fairly well for 2017 but as revenues are anticipated to continue dropping, maintaining a 30 percent budget reserve will be an enduring challenge.
“What we’re trying to do with the challenge in decreasing revenues is maintain the quality of life, inspire consumer confidence and community pride,” he said. “I know that’s kind of hard to do with our projections, but we’re trying to come up with a five year plan to move forward.”
Commissioner John Kinkaid noted the precipitous drop in property tax revenue and said that Referred Measure 1A addresses how the county would recover from this type of situation.
According to Colorado law, local governments are prohibited from retaining property tax revenues greater than 5.5 percent from the proceeding year.
Referred Measure 1A on November’s ballot would dissolve the statutory limitation and allow the county to retain property tax revenue above 5.5 percent from the previous year if successful.
“I’m believing that the economy is going to tick up eventually and we need to be able to recover,” he said. “Referred Measure 1A, if passed, would allow the county to recover more quickly and not be restricted by the 5.5 percent.”
The draft budget, which must be finalized by Dec. 15, is available online at http://moffatcounty.net/
Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.
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