Whole Foods Market bus ads help buoy Summit County transit budget
Summit County benefited from unanticipated funds at the end of 2013, which has resulted in a balanced 2014 budget, according to finance director Marty Ferris’ latest budget update.
Ferris delivered the update Tuesday, March 18, to the Board of County Commissioners during a regular work session at the Old Courthouse in Breckenridge. The good news was due in part to an increase in sales tax revenue, which came in at 13.32 percent, or $495,000, higher than 2012.
However, the updated budget does show projected 2014 general fund expenses outpacing revenues by $908,957. Summit County manager Gary Martinez said the excess accounts for funds budgeted for projects not completed in 2013 that were rolled over into 2014.
“We had a good end to the year,” Martinez told the commission. “What you are looking at is essentially a balanced budget.”
The county is projected to have a total ending fund balance of $17.3 million. The general funds ending balance makes up $16.6 million of the total. According to county policy, officials must maintain three months of operating reserves, which are maintained in the general fund.
The county’s general fund is not the only fund benefiting from unexpected revenues at the end of 2013.
The transit fund, which was forecasted to end last year in the hole due mainly to an unforeseen hike in gas prices, started 2014 with a positive $56,541 balance and is projected to end this year with a little less than $350,000 in reserves.
The transit fund was bailed out by a healthy increase of mass-transit tax funds, which were up 9.85 percent, or $712,000, compared with 2012. The transit fund receives a portion of its revenue from a .75 percent share of county sales taxes approved by voters in the 1990s.
Summit County assistant manager Thad Noll, who is one of the county representatives to the Transit Advisory Board, said the department also trimmed some of its budgeted expenses in 2013 to try to offset the hit it was expecting from increased gas prices. For example, the transit board received funding in 2013 to make three bus purchases, but opted instead to buy two.
“We’re looking good so far because we’re implementing better practices in the department, and new leadership is working hard to look at every expense,” Noll said. “So far, fuel prices are also staying within our (2014) expectations.”
In total, the transit fund beat 2013 revenue projections by about $400,000, Ferris said. She had originally budgeted a $250,000 loan to the transit fund from the general fund to maintain services in 2014. However, increased mass-transit tax revenue coupled with projected 2014 revenues from the recently implemented Summit Stage advertising program canceled the need to transfer those funds.
The transit board has already sold $166,000 in advertising space on Summit Stage buses, Noll said, $150,000 of which is guaranteed. Whole Foods Market, scheduled to open for business at the end of April in Frisco, is currently Summit Stage’s biggest advertiser.
The solid waste fund, which has ended the last several years in the hole, also started 2014 with a positive fund balance of more than $400,000, Ferris said, thanks to better-than-projected landfill and recycling fees. As an added bonus, the Summit County Resource Allocation Park did not spend dollars it received in 2013 from the county’s general fund.
“They (landfill staff) are also doing a really good job managing their expenses,” Ferris said. “We’ve also delayed some capital expenses in recent years, but we’re working on getting them caught up with some equipment needs.”
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