Eagle County budget short $1M for 2009 | VailDaily.com

Eagle County budget short $1M for 2009

Melanie Wong
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Preliminary 2009 budget plans for Eagle County, Colorado are $1 million short, officials said.

After looking at the budget requests from all the county departments, it is clear some cuts will have to be made, County Finance Director John Lewis said

Many departments actually submitted budget requests that were less than last year, but others, such as the Sheriff’s Office, requested increases.

Those increases, along with the a forecasted decrease in county revenues for next year, account for the $1 million deficit, Lewis said.

The county expects to collect $1 million to $2 million less in permit fees, and federal and state grants next year. Also, the county does not expect to see an increase in sales taxes or property taxes.

“The commissioners need to work with some of the larger departments and do what they can to cut,” Lewis said.

While not giving raises or not adding new employees might be one way to make the cuts, Lewis said those options aren’t necessarily at the top of the list, and many different options are being considered.

The commissioners regard employees among their highest priorities, he said.

Still, some costs aren’t the result of program expansions or requests for more staff. Utility costs are up, for example, and the Road and Bridge Department reports that gravel costs are up 25 percent.

One solution may be to not fill positions that are currently open, but the county probably won’t resort to layoffs, Commissioner Peter Runyon said.

Lewis said cutting staff might result in a decrease in services.

“If you cut staff, we still have the same customers, the same problems, and the same things to account for, but less money,” he said.

However, Runyon said that if it came down to it, some services might have to be cut.

“Obviously that’s the least desirable option, but nothing is off the table, including early childhood,” he said, referring to the county’s $800,000 early-childhood development program.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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