Proposed county budget reflects stable spending and service levels

Chantal Unfug
Chantal Unfug

After three years of cuts, the proposed budget for Mesa County for 2013 reflects more stable spending and service levels.

“The county’s resources are still tight, but there are bright spots that give us cause for optimism,” said County Administrator Chantal Unfug. “We’re not out of the woods, but we are investing our resources in the services and programs out residents have identified as priorities.”

The overall budget proposed for 2013 totals nearly $154 million, an increase of 3.4 percent from the adopted budget for 2012. But most of that gain comes from a nearly 10 percent increase in spending budgeted for capital projects.

Unfug said efforts across county government to operate more efficiently helped prevent additional budget cuts — 26 divisions of the county have implemented a total of 87 initiatives or projects designed to make their operations more efficient.

Overall revenues for the county are projected to increase about 2.9 percent in 2013. Sales tax revenues are forecast to increase 7.6 percent, while property tax revenues are expected to edge up three-tenths of a percent.

Revenues from some other sources could decrease.

“The county’s revenue picture continues to be unpredictable due to economic conditions,” said Marcia Arnhold, Mesa County finance director. “This budget proposal is a responsible one and maintains a healthy fund balance to protect the organization from possible additional revenue drops.”

Capital spending fluctuates from year to year based on revenues the county collects from half of revenues generated by its 2 percent sales tax. Under an arrangement approved by voters, those funds are earmarked for the capital construction fund and can’t be used for other purposes.

A number of projects have been proposed for $38.6 million in spending, among them a new building for the Mesa County Workforce Center, improvements to the Mesa County Fairgrounds and additions to the Colorado Riverfront Trail.

“The county is doing everything it can to support economic development in these challenging times,” Unfug said. “We are investing heavily in our workforce center to focus on jobs, and as always in our complex infrastructure projects. We’re working to keep our community — and our economy — strong for today and for the future.”