Eagle County budget nearly $204 million for 2023
The biggest piece of the pie goes to employee pay and benefits
This story has been corrected to change the date of the Eagle County Commissioners’ vote on the 2023 budget. The correct date is Dec. 6.
Also: The county’s 2023 budget is close to $204 million after the addition of another $10 million into county housing funds.
Eagle County’s budget book for 2023 is roughly 175 pages. It contains some very big numbers.
Eagle County across several funds plans to spend about $204 million next year, on revenues of roughly $181 million. Here’s a brief look at where the money’s going, and coming from.
The biggest single expense is pay and benefits for the county’s workforce. About $76 million of the total budget will go to the county’s 560 current employees, as well as six new positions budgeted for next year. That number reflects 5% cost-of-living adjustments for everyone, as well as a merit pay pool.
Support Local Journalism
The budget also puts $5 million into employee retention, with another $500,000 dedicated to recruitment.
The budget for pay and benefits is likely to increase when the results are published from an outside market study that compares Eagle County’s pay and benefits to other counties and municipalities in the region. Study results are expected in April.
One of the immediate actions is increasing the county’s contribution to employee retirement accounts, from 6% to 8%. Employee contributions will remain as they are this year.
Insurance is a major expense, of course. The county’s health insurance fund for 2023 is more than $10.6 million.
Besides people, the county also anticipates spending more than $10 million on road and bridge and human services funds.
The airport fund is the largest single item, but that facility’s funding comes from airport fees and federal grants, not county taxpayers.
Housing remains a priority, of course, with $7.6 million going to the county’s Bold Housing Moves initiatives. Another $3 million is going to planning new housing projects.
Housing is one of the priorities set by the county commissioners.
During a Nov. 29 review of the budget, Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said spending for housing and other priorities is possible only because the county is able to fund its core services, from law enforcement to the county landfill to the county health department.
At that review, McQueeney noted that spending outside of core services is spurred by public input.
“These are not things that we dream up, but that the community tells us (to focus on),” McQueeney said.
The county’s revenue comes from several sources.
Sales tax is the biggest single contributor, at 30%. Grants make up another 20% of revenue, with sources including federal, state, and local grants, as well as revenue from other governments. Grant funding also includes payment in lieu of property taxes that come to the county from the federal government.
Charges for services, which include landfill fees, airport fees, bus fares, and building permit fees, make up another 16% of the revenue pie. A similar portion comes from property tax collections. The county takes 13% of every property tax dollar paid.
There’s money left over from these collections.
County Finance Director Jill Klosterman told the commissioners that current policy aims to have at least 25% of county spending in reserves, or “fund balances.” The current budget has balances over that amount, Klosterman said.
With the looming prospect of a national recession, Klosterman said contingency plans are in place. Klosterman said if revenues in the first quarter of 2023 don’t meet projections, the finance team will look at tactics including leaving vacant positions open, as well as taking another look at strategic priorities.
“We continue to watch (economic trends) very closely,” she said.
The commissioners are expected to vote Dec. 6 on the 2023 budget.
To view the county’s proposed 2023 budget, go to EagleCounty.us.