Summit County government holding the line in 2013 budget
October 25, 2012
BRECKENRIDGE – If Summit County government’s revenues continue to dive over the next five years, local officials may have to draw down its $11 million savings account a bit.
But, after slicing more than $1 million from the budget before hard times hit in 2010, the county is prepared to balance its budget in 2013 and beyond without making any more significant cuts.
“We’re in good shape,” Summit County manager Gary Martinez said. “We’ve got ourselves in a great fiscal position, and I think we can maintain that over the next few years.”
When the recession’s impact on local property values caught up with projections for property tax collections in 2010, the county government eliminated more than 20 jobs and made steep cuts across the budget, building up reserves and creating a leaner operating government.
With another 5 percent decrease in property tax collections set to hit county coffers in 2014 and sales tax collections down almost 5 percent this year from 2011, officials were still able to make the budget work and cover a $2 million capital expense to help renovate a historic building in Breckenridge as the new south branch library location.
“We’re flat,” Martinez said. “We’re not outspending our revenue. Unlike the federal government, we have to balance our budget.”
Even with conservative projections, officials expect to be able to continue to balance the budget without any significant cuts or reducing reserves below $9 million through 2017.
Next year, the county budget takes into account shortfalls in two enterprise funds – the ambulance and the landfill – the one-time expense for the library project and, for the first time in a few years, up to 3 percent merit increases for county employees.
“They’re eligible for those, but it’s not an automatic thing,” Martinez said of the merit raises in the budget.
However, cost-saving policies include prohibiting new staff expenses or programs without new dedicated revenue to support them.
The county will operate on a $73 million budget in 2013, up from $71 million this year. The difference is primarily earmarked for the library budget.
With trash deliveries down at the landfill, and insurance collections down for the Summit County Ambulance Service, the county’s 2013 budget sets aside funding to help subsidize both agencies, which are set up to be self-supporting agencies.
“We know we have a shortfall for 2013, so we’re going to have to transfer money from the general fund,” Martinez said. “Then we’re going to have to pin down what the next best approach is.”
Together, the two agencies will require a $435,000 subsidy from the county government, with $155,000 going to the landfill and $280,000 to the ambulance service.
Property tax collections fund 37 percent of the county’s general fund, charges for services represent 24 percent and sales taxes make up an additional 13.6 percent.