Mesa County budget lower, but funds business groups

Kelly Sloan
Kelly Sloan

Kelly Sloan, The Business Times

Mesa County Commissioners have adopted a 2014 budget that reflects lower revenue and spending levels overall, but still includes allocations for two business development organizations.

Proposed cuts to the budgets of the sheriff’s department and district attorney’s offices were not implemented.

Mesa County Administrator Tom Fisher said projected revenues for 2014 total nearly $144.5 million in 2014, 2.5 percent less than the 2013 budget. Accordingly, budget expenditures will drop about 1 percent to almost $155.9 million.

Fisher said conservative spending during 2013 allowed for a little additional room in the 2014 budget.

County staffing levels are expected to remain the same in 2014.

The county plans on about $32 million in capital expenditures in 2014, down from more than $35 million in 2013. Fisher said a considerable amount of the county’s capital spending is leveraged by federal and state grants, including energy impact grants, that had not been issued over the past several years.

About 57 percent of capital expenditures are earmarked for transportation-related projects, 24 percent for county facilities, 11 percent for transit and 4 percent for information technology systems. The 2014 budget allocates $2.5 million for improvements at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

Proposed budget cuts to the sheriff’s department and district attorney’s office were not implemented. The commissioners said maintaining funding aligned with their strategic plan for the county that makes public safety a priority.

County funding for the Grand Junction Economic Partnership also was left in the 2014 budget, albeit $10,000 less.

Commissioner Rose Pugliese said GJEP will receive $15,000 for operational assistance with retaining or attracting new businesses. The funding may not be used for salaries, but solely for prospect development, Pugliese said.

Kelly Flenniken, executive director of GJEP, said she was “thrilled to be back in the budget.” Flenniken said public-private partnerships provide important economic development programs she hopes will attract high-quality businesses to the area.

Pugliese said county funding for the Business Incubator Center was cut 5 percent, but she reiterated the commissioners’ “strong support for the incubator and the great work that it does for our county.”

In terms of how the approved budget will affect local businesses, Pugliese said county capital improvement projects will benefit the economy. “All these capital improvements will have a positive impact on public safety and economic development, both of which support local businesses.”