County: Tight ’09 budget seen |

County: Tight ’09 budget seen

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

Who they talked to: County Finance Director John Lewis

What they talked about: Property taxes are going up less than 1 percent next year, and sales tax revenues are slowing down, meaning that county revenues will be tight in 2009.

The forecast for revenues is almost $40 million, a 2.5 percent increase from last year, Lewis said.

Major sources of revenue include sales taxes, property taxes and licensing and permit fee.

Sales are slowing down, but revenues will probably stay about the same as last year. Property taxes will bring in about $130,000 of increase from last year. However, the county may loose about $600,000 in licensing and permit fees, Lewis said.

The county hasn’t looked at expenditure estimates for next year, but Lewis said it will be tough.

“With only a 2.5 percent increase in revenue, this is a warning sign to department heads to cut where they can,” he said.

Commissioner Arn Menconi said he wanted to see more detailed plans for next year’s budget and take a hard look at the county’s salary and benefits costs.

The county needs to do a five-year forecast of revenues and expenses, he said.

“We need to make decisions today that can fund future budgets,” he said.

Next year, the county may also save money by not filling some of its vacant positions. However, some new positions will be necessary, such as workers for the newly expanded jail.

What’s next? A forecast of county expenses will be ready in mid-September and a preliminary budget will be ready in October.

What is it? Eagle County is one of the nine communities in the country identified by experts as having similar resort economies ” and the problems that come with it.

County commissioners are planning to bring the leaders of these communities together in Eagle County on Oct. 16 and 17.

“The idea is that we all have similar problems, and we can share ideas and solutions,” Commissioner Peter Runyon said.

The communities, including Key West, Whistler and Nantucket, were all identified as experiencing growth problems that stemmed from limited land, a high second-home owner population, and dislocation of workforce.

Work shops and speakers are being lined-up for the weekend. One possible speaker is Christian Science Monitor reporter Dante Chinni, who is doing a nationwide report called “Patchwork Nation.” Eagle is featured on the report as a boomtown.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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