Summit County $24.5 million budget buoyed by new, voter-approved revenue
The Summit Board of County Commissioners this week passed the 2015 budget, approving a $24.5 million general fund as well as major capital improvements.
“Summit County is on sound financial footing,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said in a written statement. “Our property tax revenues are still weighed down by the effects of the recession, but the recent passage of Measure 1A and rising sales tax revenues are helping to relieve those pressures.”
THE 1A EFFECT
Summit County voters on Nov. 4 overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative that will infuse a cash-strapped ambulance service with $1.65 million annually over eight years. The initiative also will secure $1.4 million annually for 911 system upgrades and $600,000 each year for water quality improvements such as toxic mine reclamation and hazardous household waste disposal. More than 60 percent of voters got behind the tax proposal, which will result in an annual increase of $19.25 per $100,000 of residential property value. The tax hike sunsets in 2022.
In total, 1A will give the county a nearly $30 million shot in the arm, bringing property tax revenue a bit closer to pre-recession levels. 2015 property tax revenues, which make up one-third of general fund revenues, are projected to be about $700,000 lower than they were in 2011, even with the passage of 1A. 2015 is the first year for which sales tax revenues are projected to return to pre-recession levels; sales tax revenues make up 17 percent of general fund revenues.
Among Summit County’s 2015 capital projects, major repairs are planned for Montezuma Road, where flooding in the Snake River created extensive road damage in June. The county is also planning to conduct Phase 1 of the Summit Cove Loop Project, which will include roadway improvements and the installation of bicycle/pedestrian lanes in Summit Cove. Needed roadway improvements are also planned for Copper Road and other locations across the county. All told, Summit County plans to spend about $1.6 million on road construction projects in 2015.
Also on the list is the remodel of the former South Branch Library building to house the district attorney and probation offices, which have outgrown their current facilities. The new South Branch Library will be located in the newly restored Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center on Harris Street in Breckenridge, slated to open in January.
The Snake River Wastewater Treatment Plant will undertake a $1.5 million project to improve plant efficiency. The project will significantly cut the plant’s electricity use, eliminate the use of certain chemicals in the wastewater treatment process and result in cleaner effluent water discharged into Dillon Reservoir.
From the new Safety First Fund, created through the passage of 1A, Summit County Ambulance Service will spend $320,000 to replace two aging ambulances. The ambulance service is applying for a grant from the state that would provide reimbursement for half the cost. The Summit County Communications Center, home to local 911 dispatch services, will begin the process of identifying a Next Generation 911 system, which will have the ability to accept digital information (voice, photos, video and text) from the public and easily deliver it to first responders.
“We’re going to go through a very deliberate process of identifying, analyzing and comparing available vendors and systems so that we can select the option that will best take us into the future of 911 communications,” Commissioner Thomas Davidson said in a written statement.
The Safety First Fund will provide $630,000 for water quality protections in 2015. Of that, $300,000 will be allocated to the restoration of the Swan River, a multi-year project with several partner organizations to rehabilitate riparian habitat that was destroyed by dredge mining during the early 1900s.
The Open Space Department also will begin prioritizing stream segments throughout the county in need of cleanup from past mining activity.
To address modern-day water quality threats, Summit County will host collection events for free disposal of household hazardous waste, electronics and pharmaceuticals; dates for the events will be finalized by January. Summit County residents will be able to drop off hazardous waste at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park on an ongoing basis following the first collection event.
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