County budget again tops $100M mark
EAGLE COUNTY – The Eagle County government will spend about the same this year as it did last – if current budget figures and projections hold true.Mike Roeper, the county’s finance director, said 2005 was a bit of a “catch-up” year, with expenditures topping $111 million. Several different supplemental budget requests pushed what the county spent last year about $20 million over what was originally projected. For 2006, Roeper said proposed expenditures of $94.6 million will likely be bumped by supplemental requests of $10 million to $15 million. That will be accounted for, he said, by projects such as extending the runway at the Eagle County airport, ongoing work at the Miller Ranch subdivision in Edwards, parks improvements and new fairgrounds facilities in Eagle, among other things.There were no significant cuts, Roeper said, but the budget approved by the county commissioners includes some significant increases in expenditures, such as an additional $650,000 to put electronic fare boxes on the county’s ECO transit buses; a 17-percent increase in funds to the district attorney’s office; and a $656,000 jump in the transportation costs due to higher gas prices and equipment replacement.”The increases are about 8 percent, which is not typical,” Roeper said. “Usually we try to keep increases to 3-3.5 percent.”That 8 percent was figured by comparing the original budgets of 2005 and 2006, but taking into consideration $7 million being moved into a separate facilities fund this year. That fund, Roeper said, is meant to be built up over the next few years to pay for building projects – especially for an anticipated expansion of the justice center.This year, the county has committed more funds to social services, with additional positions and programs aimed at seniors, families and welfare recipients. Roeper noted that a fair amount of the total for socials services is funded by state and federal grants, making the county’s portion of the increase about $175,000.Also this year, an additional $650,000 was allocated to the sheriff’s office, including salaries for five new sheriff’s deputies – short of the seven additional the sheriff’s office asked for.All told, the increases for 2006 totaled about $7 million, which Roeper said was mostly attributed to new positions, cost-of-living increases and additional capital projects. Those were mostly in the road and bridge area, with about $3 million for improvements to Cooley Mesa Rd. in Gypsum and the Edwards spur road, a new striping truck and a contract to crush gravel (rather than haul it) for the road and bridge department.Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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