Pitkin County adopts 2009 budget | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County adopts 2009 budget

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY ” Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday adopted a 2009 budget that calls for slightly more than $73 million in revenues and expenditures for all funds and programs, and reflects what budget officials say is a tightly conservative estimate of revenues for the year because of the slumping national economy.

The adoption, which took place during a special meeting, was for first reading only. The second reading ” and final adoption of the budget ” is set for Dec. 17.

Of the total budget, more than $23 million is slated for what are termed core services ” including the general fund ($19.6 million), roads and bridges ($3.2 million), and social services ($957,500).

The county’s overall property tax rate for the general fund, roads and bridges, social services and other programs covered by property tax proceeds comes to a rate of 2.996, which is expected to raise more than $8 million for the year. That tax rate, according to the county finance office, equates to $23.85 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for a residential property.

Not included in that rate is a separate property tax, at a rate of 3.760 mills, which is expected to raise $10.4 million for the open space and trails program, as well as various other special-district property taxes.

Other revenues for the general fund mainly come from fees, grants, and sales or use tax collections.

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The money reserved for roads and bridges reflects a total of approximately $2.6 million for snow plowing and routine road maintenance, as well as $423,000 for replacement of certain road equipment, according to public works director Brian Pettet.

The remaining $400,000 will go toward capital improvements projects.

In recent years, the county had been spending $1.8 million per year on capital improvements. A consultant recently recommended the county boost that annual spending to somewhere between $5 million and $8 million.

In preparing the 2009 budget documents, county administrators and the commissioners agreed that there was only about $400,000 available for capital improvements, and asked voters for taxing authority to raise more.

County voters in November rejected a proposed property tax hike that would have raised as much as $5 million per year.

Other big-ticket items in the 2009 budget include $11.7 million in transportation funds and $10.1 million in the Pitkin County Airport fund.

The county has more than $6 million in reserve funds held back for emergency needs, “in the event major revenue streams fall short of our projections,” states the memo from budget officials Debe Nelson and John Redmond.

jcolson@aspentimes.com

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