Moffat County budget on track for next year | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County budget on track for next year

Tyler Baskfield

Rumors of a bankrupt Moffat County because of the future public safety center are unfounded, according to officials, and the county will make its budget in 2000.

Some residents have expressed concern that construction costs for the Moffat County Public Safety Center will bankrupt the county, but according to Debra Murray, Moffat County administrative assistant, the numbers all add up.

“We are not using general fund money for the public safety center,” said Murray.

In 1998 Moffat County sold $10 million worth of certificates of participation (bonds) to fund the safety center project. According to Murray, the county won’t start paying back the bonds until 2001.

“Most of that money is still sitting in bonds and the interest we are receiving on the bonds is paying for the interest we will have to pay back on the bonds,” said Murray.

The county plans to pay for the bonds by using part of the 2 percent sales tax the county receives. Moffat County previously gave 1.5 percent to the cities of Craig and Dinosaur. That number was renegotiated last year and Moffat County took half of the 1.5 percent, or .75 percent, back to help fund the public safety center project. In 2001 the .75 percent, plus the .5 percent the county was already receiving, will help pay for the bond money, according to Murray.

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Funding for the safety center will come from the $1.2 million Moffat County pledged by the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), $8 million from the bonds, $600,000 from energy impact funds and another $265,000 the county is confident it will receive from energy impact funds to build a garage at the safety center to store Craig Police Department vehicles, CSP vehicles and Moffat County Sheriff’s Department vehicles.

Murray believes the concern people have for the Moffat County balance sheet stems from people viewing the total revenue the county will net in 2000, which is $30,514,549. Expenses for the year are $29,479,600 plus the $10 million for the public safety center project, which appears to put the county far into the red. The difference is the $8 million in bonds that isn’t shown in the 2000 Moffat County budget.

The Memorial Hospital expense is also shown on the budget, but according to Murray, this is a misrepresentation. Murray said the county has to list the hospital on the budget because it receives part of the mill levy tax. The approximately $1 million The Memorial Hospital expects to lose this year will not be the county’s responsibility.

“We don’t have to assume any of that $1 million debt,” said Murray.

Another misunderstanding has been circulating that has county officials upset is the county will be using Road and Bridge Department money to fund the safety center project. According to Murray, there is no possibility of the county using these funds for the safety center project it would be against the law.

“By law we can’t use Road and Bridge funds because they get money from the highway user fund, and by law it can only be use for road and bridge work,” said Murray.

The highway user fund is a combination state and federal fund that helps fund road and bridge projects. Moffat County is estimating it will receive $3,345,000 from the fund in 2000.

“We can’t touch the money in there,” said Murray. “There is no way that we are going to touch Road and Bridge funds or transfer money out.”

The proposed 2000 Moffat County budget is able to be viewed in the Moffat County Administration Department at the Moffat County Courthouse.

“I will be happy to sit down and explain it to anyone who does not understand it,” said Murray. The budget will be able to be amended up until Dec. 14. After the first of the year the finalized budget will be on display at the Craig-Moffat County Library.