Pitkin County OKs budget | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County OKs budget

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Pitkin County commissioners gave unanimous final approval Wednesday to a 2011 budget that includes a $17.6 million general fund.

Commissioner George Newman, chairman of the board, called the budget, which freezes wages for a second year, a conservative one.

“I think it’s very austere,” he said. “I don’t see any frills in it.”

Commissioner Jack Hatfield, who frequently casts a no vote when it comes to approval of the annual budget because it’s not fiscally tight enough, sided with the majority this year.

“This year, there’s nothing so pressing that’s going to push me into a no vote,” he said.

Hatfield did, however, decry the district attorney’s refusal to cut the county’s share of his budget by 5 percent, as other county departments were asked to do, and noted the balanced budget comes at the expense of capital improvement funding for the county’s roads and bridges.

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The general fund covers general county services, social services, and road and bridge costs, but does not reflect the $5.4 million that the Public Works Department says is needed annually to keep the roads and bridges in good repair. It includes about $400,000 for that purpose.

“I think that’s a primary issue for us to tackle in 2011,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards.

Commissioners have suggested it may be time to again ask voters for a property tax dedicated to roads and bridges. A proposed tax was narrowly defeated in 2008.