Summit County revenues take big hit in August |

Summit County revenues take big hit in August

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SUMMIT COUNTY – Since the recession started, August was the worst month yet for county sales tax revenues, down 27.5 percent from 2008.

“It stunk,” said finance director Marty Ferris, updating county commissioners on the latest numbers Tuesday.

For 2009, revenues have been down an average of about 18 percent each month from last year, a total of about $690,000 for the first eight months of the year. Projecting for the rest of the year, Ferris anticipated the county would end 2009 down about 16 percent.

The saving grace for the county in 2010 could be the expected revenues from Measure 1A, a modest tax increase approved by voters last November. The hike will add a few million dollars to the county’s budget. Some of the money is specifically earmarked for open space and other purposes, and some will help bolster the county’s general fund.

The commissioners are currently holding early public hearings on the 2010 budget and are looking to restore some cuts, including library hours.

Mass-transit tax collections, used to fund the Summit Stage, didn’t drop quite as drastically Ferris said. The transit tax is collected across the county and all the local towns. By contrast, the biggest part of the county’s sales tax revenues are collected at Keystone and Copper Mountain.

County commissioners once again Tuesday tackled the issue of revenues at the landfill, where solid waste revenues were down 16 percent – from $3.18 million in 2008 to $2.65 million in 2009.

The projected budget shortfall at the landfill dropped since last month because of higher prices for commodities, so the county will be able to close the $112,000 gap with small fee increases.

In earlier discussions, staff looked at cutting back hours, but determined that wasn’t the best choice.

“We looked at reducing hours, but it’s just not appropriate,” said county engineer Rick Pocius.

“It doesn’t save that much money, and haulers will take trash out-of-county. That’s not environmentally sustainable,” said Kevin Berg, who heads up the county’s recycling operations.

Instead, the county will raise the fees for processing loose and compacted trash by a few dollars per load to make up the difference.

“People have to pay for what they get,” said county commissioner Bob French, explaining his support for the increase. The overall goal was to minimize the impact and cost to the community while maintaining the revenues needed to run the operation and pay for recycling services.

The charge for loose trash will go up from $74 per ton to $77 per ton. For compacted garbage, the fee will rise from $57 to $59 per ton.

A few other fees will also go up. The biggest impact for trash haulers will be a higher cost for mixed recycling loads, and larger TVs will also cost more to dispose of.

The county plans to approve the new rates at a Dec. 10 meeting and they will take effect Jan. 1.

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