Commissioners approve budget | VailDaily.com

Commissioners approve budget

Your property tax dollar breaks down like this.
Special to the Daily |

Eagle County 2016 budget

$40.4 million general fund, the day-to-day checkbook by which the county conducts its business.

$1.3 million (2.8 percent) Decrease in general fund spending from 2015

$13.1 million: General fund reserve minimum of for next year.

$109 million: Total 2016 budget for all funds

$150 million: Total 2015 budget for all funds. The reduction is primarily due to large capital projects funded in 2015 for Road & Bridge and the Eagle County Regional Airport.

Revenue increases

$2.8 million more property taxes

$400,000 more in sales taxes

Revenue decreases

$3 million in investment income. County investments are ties to federal interest rates, which remain nearly zero

Where it will go

$3 million more in healthcare costs will devour any revenue increases.

20 percent. The amount county staffers get back from any savings in healthcare costs they can create.

Human services spending

$6.5 million: 2010 public health and human services budget

$11.2 million: 2016 public health and human services budget

Property tax rates

8.499: Mill levy, the county’s property tax rate. It’s unchanged since 2004. Raising it would require approval by Eagle County voters.

For more information

Complete budget information is available at www.eaglecounty.us/finance.

The county’s online checkbook utility allows access to real-time, transaction-level financial data including departmental budgets and payments, vendor information by name and amount, and employee purchasing card details.

Eagle County Open Book is available at www.eaglecounty.us/openbook.

EAGLE — Your county property taxes rate will not increase. However, your property taxes overall probably will.

The county’s property tax rate has not changed since 2004, and it won’t change next year. When the county commissioners approved the county’s 2016 budget Tuesday, they left the property tax rate alone.

That’s because revenues are increasing slowly, said John Lewis, Eagle County’s finance director.

Property values are back up following a 30 percent crash when the economy tanked. That means the county’s property tax revenue will be up 12 percent in 2016.

Sales taxes are back to 2007 levels, up $400,000 to $8.8 million total.

That means Eagle County government will have $2.8 million more to spend next year.

That and more

The additional money will be consumed a $3 million increase in the county’s healthcare costs. The county’s health care costs shot up 50 percent over the last five years, Lewis said.

The county is fighting back, though. County staffers get apples-to-apples cost comparisons for comparable medical procedures in different parts of the state.

When the procedure is finished and paid for, the staffer gets 20 percent of any savings.

For example, if an MRI costs $4,000 in one place and $400 somewhere else, the county staffer gets 20 percent of the $3,600 savings — $720.

Also gone is the county’s community grant program. Instead, the county will contract with outside agencies that deliver services that align with the county’s plan.

The commissioners committed $100,000 to the United Way of Eagle River Valley.

Human services deficit

There’s also a $1 million deficit in the county’s public health and human services costs. That shortfall started when the recession hit in 2007, and the county’s public assistance costs spiked. Those costs have not significantly fallen in the recovery.

In 2010 at the peak of the recession, the county’s human services spending was $6.5 million.

Next year, the public health and human services budget is $11.2 million.

The county’s investment earnings, tied to federal interest rates, are down to essentially zero. The county earned $3 million a year in investment income prior to 2008.

It’ll be OK, though

The county has been stacking up money in reserves for years and has a healthy $23 million in the bank, Lewis said.

“We want to thank the department heads and all our staff, who’ve been holding the line on spending,” said Kathy Chandler-Henry, county commissioner.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.