Eagle County approves spending of $4 million revenue surplus
The supplemental budget includes funding for dozens of projects, as well as new full-time positions
Eagle County has generated a revenue surplus of $4.2 million dollars in 2022, mostly attributed to an increase in revenue from sales tax. This week, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners approved a supplemental budget request that will allocate just over $4 million of that surplus to various project requests that were not included in the 2022 adopted budget.
Jill Klosterman, the county’s chief financial officer, shared the monthly sales tax report at Tuesday’s board meeting, which shows that the 1% countywide sales tax has brought in just over $10 million between January and March of this year, significantly exceeding the income from the last five years at that same time period. The county had budgeted for $7.3 million in sales tax revenue by this time, but a spike in prices and increased sales activity blew past that estimate.
“As of March 2022, we collected about as much as we did through the month of May 2021,” Klosterman said. “We don’t know if that will continue, we don’t want to make assumptions about what the rest of the year might look like, but this is revenue that we have in hand — it’s in the bank, the treasurer’s invested it — so we thought we would include it in this supplemental request.”
The supplemental budget includes funding for dozens of projects, as well as 14.5 new full-time equivalent positions. Among the largest items approved for funding are $544,607 for the acquisition of the Quail Run Townhouse to house ECO Transit employees, $350,000 for a new approach instrument system at the Eagle County Airport, $300,000 for an ECO Transit fleet expansion, $215,000 for a new camera system at the detention center and $180,000 toward an updated transformer and electrical system at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
$103,000 is going toward the start of a public health relationship with Family Connects International, which aims to establish a universal home visitation program for newborns in the county. The airport will also receive $200,000 to add a second concession location, and $175,000 for restroom upgrades.
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The 14.5 new full-time equivalent positions include a cybersecurity analyst, a number of public health positions — including two Family Connects International nurses — an operations manager for the landfill to help work on reducing waste emissions, and additional roles at the airport, and with the road, bridge and fleet departments. The budget also notes the subtraction of 4.5 existing public health positions, which were expanded during the pandemic and are no longer needed at this time.
Together, these add up to a net addition of 10 full time salaries, but the 2022 supplementary budget is only paying for five of them, as the rest are covered by grants and salary savings from the 47 currently unfilled positions in the county government.
”While vacancy savings is a good thing from a financial perspective, it’s not good for those filling in empty holes and working extra shifts, so we want to hit fully staffed, or as fully staffed as we can,” Klosterman said.
Klosterman reassured commissioners that even with the additional $4 million dollar expenditure, the county is well positioned financially, and is expected to surpass original projections for its reserve fund at the end of the year, reaching over $277 million dollars. With so much money in reserve, Klosterman and her team are confident in advising that the best thing to do with the surplus funds is to put them to work in the community.
“I’m sure you are seeing as much recession talk as I am. You can rest assured that we are in a good position to manage a drop in revenue should we see that here, and it’s something that we’re paying attention to,” Klosterman said. “We want to be careful about that, but we also want to put the money out in the community. We really view our role as taking care of the community’s needs, so we want to save the right amount, but we don’t want to over save.”