Pitkin County looks at 2014 budget | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County looks at 2014 budget

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners reviewed the proposed 2014 county budget of $82 million during a work session Tuesday.

The budget increase is 11 percent over the $73 million budget in 2013. The increase is primarily for special revenue and enterprise funds that help pay for upgrades in such areas as the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, the downtown library, the landfill, open space, the housing fund and more.

The proposed budget takes a five-year look ahead and focuses on investing in services and infrastructure that the public has asked for and displayed a need for.

For 2014, the county will start with a fund balance of $72 million. After all revenues and expenditures are calculated, it's estimated the county still will have $68 million in the balance.

"Our budget is fiscally cautious with our fund balance," said Pitkin County Financial Director John Redmond. "We're conservative with our annual budget."

One of the more visible areas where the public can see funds being implemented would be the use of the capital fund set up in 2012.

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The capital fund was put together to invest resources that would maintain and enhance county assets. Any surplus operating-fund balance could then be used for capital and other one-time investments.

Through the use of the capital fund, the county has invested more than $12.6 million in county roads since 2012. In the past two years, the county has put asphalt overlays on more than 17 miles of county roads and has put chip seal on Redstone Boulevard and Brush Creek Road. The Aspen Business Center road and drainage improvements come from the capital fund, as does the Highway 82 pedestrian underpass and the Coal Creek culvert replacement.

"In 2012, we made a significant change to our budget structure," said County Manager Joe Peacock. "We made sure we had adequate funds to invest in public infrastructure. I think that's been successful. Our investment in road improvements has increased by more than 400 percent."

Peacock said the county has embarked on some large projects in the past year that the public will be able to take advantage of and will continue on that path in 2014.

"This budget has some considerable investments," Peacock said. "They include the library expansion, affordable housing and the continuing investment in our roads and facilities."

Final adoption of the 2014 budget is scheduled for Dec. 18.

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com