Garfield County budget increases for 2009 |

Garfield County budget increases for 2009

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” While other Colorado counties are slashing expenses in the wake of an economic recession, Garfield County’s budget for next year calls for additional capital spending.

The Garfield County commissioners on Monday approved a 2009 budget that calls for $135.7 million in spending. That is a 27 percent increase from the $107 million the county spent this year, according to a memo to commissioners outlining the 2009 budget.

The county will collect about $124 million in 2009, the memo said. The $11.7 million difference in what the county will spend and what it will collect comes from the county’s fund balance, which is projected to be at about $49.6 million at the end of 2009, according to a report prepared by Ed Green, the county manager, and Lisa Dawson, the county’s finance director.

However, the fund balance may grow to about $55 to $60 million because of deferred expenses, unfilled staff positions and capital projects that might not happen, the budget report said.

The $11.7 million shortfall is primarily due to “aggressive capital expenditures,” the report said. Those expenditures include $1.5 million for the 200-unit affordable housing project in Rifle, $3.5 million for a new sheriff’s office annex, also in Rifle, and $1.5 million for new water lines at the county airport.

The county’s current strong financial position is largely from growth in the natural gas industry, which accounts for about two-thirds of the county’s property tax revenue. However, oil and gas companies have announced plans to significantly cut back on drilling in the area.

But county officials have said the county should be in good financial shape for the next few years in the face of drilling cutbacks. That is because the county has been building its fund balance, they say.

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