County approves 2021 budget

MEEKER | Rio Blanco County Commissioners adopted the 2021 County Budget Tuesday evening during a special meeting. Prior to adoption, Budget and Finance Director Janae Stanworth presented an overview of the budget, which covers a total of 17 funds and 56 departments. Overall the 2021 budget is decreasing by $6.1 million from 2020. Projected revenues for 2021 are $24.7 million, budgeted expenses are $30.6 million for a deficit of $5.9 million. In 2020 the budgeted deficit was $10.4 million. The county’s largest expense is personnel. On average the county will spend $80,020 per employee for wages and benefits in 2021.

Assessed valuations for 2021 decreased by 11.4%, representing a decrease in property tax revenues of about $900,000. Oil and gas and industrial make up 72% of the total county valuation, down from 76% in the past. Total projected property tax revenues are $6.98 million. Stanworth noted that property taxes have been decreasing since 2013, and that this was the first time departments had been asked to decrease their budgets. County mill levies remain steady at 9.050 mills.


The general fund accounts for 33 departments and 72 full time equivalent (FTE) employees and is decreasing expenditures by 18.3% from 2020, or about $1.8 million. It has budgeted revenues of $7.8 million, including $6.98 million from property tax, $1.6 million from sales tax, $1.6 million from licenses, permits and fees some of which is internal. Budgeted expenditures are $10.3 million, down from $12.8 million in 2020. The county is also budgeting a contingency in the fund of $1 million for 2021, for an overall general fund deficit of $2.5 million that will come out of the fund balance. The remaining general fund balance for 2021 is about $13.8 million, or 18 months of expenses, 6 months over the desired target of 12.


The Road and Bridge fund accounts for 34 FTEs and has budgeted revenues of $7.8 million which will primarily come from a CR 73 bridge grant ($1.2 million), the highway users tax fund ($2.96 million), and property tax allocation ($3.3 million) representing 48% of total property tax allocations in the budget. Expenses for 2021 are budgeted at $8.7 million, primarily for the CR 73 bridge construction ($1.6 million), and $465,000 in contingency. Overall budgeted expenditures are decreasing by $3.3 million. $2 million worth of expenditures in 2020 were for a road overlay project that happens every other year and thus is not budgeted in 2021.


The Public Health Fund accounts for 4.15 FTEs and has budgeted revenues of $404,354. Revenues come mostly from intergovernmental grants ($310,484), and property taxes ($77,131). Budgeted expenditures are $493,737.


The Human Services Fund accounts for 11.30 FTEs and has budgeted revenues of $2.5 million. Revenues come from intergovernmental state grants/reimbursements ($2.27 million), and property tax ($269,957). Budgeted expenditures are $2.62 million, the majority of which are for the child welfare and food assistance programs.


The Use Tax fund accounts for seven different departments and 5.8 FTEs. Budgeted revenues are $860,287 including a $50,000 transfer in from the communication fund. Revenue sources are down by 11% since 2020 due to a decrease in use tax, which is projected around $690,000 for 2021. Budgeted expenditures are $738,536, down 15% from 2020, plus a $135,000 transfer out to the weed and pest fund. Expenditure decreases are due to a reduction in hours, commissioner mandated cuts of 5% for each department, and a decrease in use tax grants. In total, $49,000 is budgeted for use tax grants, $3,000 is designated for Rangely Victim Services and Meeker Safehouse. Stanworth said the remaining $46,000 may not all be spent in 2021, but that it was there in case emergencies come up for entities that may need help in 2021.


The capital improvement fund provides funding for facility/infrastructure projects over $100,000. Budgeted revenues for 2021 are $779,380 plus a $50,000 transfer in from CEF. Budgeted expense is $1.1 million, mostly for Meeker and Rangely Airport projects that are 95% FAA/state funded.


The CCITF funds capital projects through interest earned by the fund. It has a balance of $24.4 million. Budgeted revenues are $163,102, down from $319,255 in 2020. Budgeted expenditures are $195,800, down from $242,190 in 2020. Originally called the Oil Shale Trust Fund when it was first created in 1975, the CCITF has allocated a total of $58.6 million throughout the county.


The Use Tax Fund accounts for 3.1 FTEs and has budgeted revenues of $666,000. Budgeted revenues for 2020 were $360,986 but estimated revenues were $1.1 million, due to an increase in commercial user fees. Budgeted expenditures are $565,721, down from $820,202 in 2020. Per state law, the landfill is required to set aside money each year for future cell construction and for eventual closure/post closure costs. For 2021 that cost is estimated at about $1.3 million. Currently the fund balance in 2021 is estimated at $6.1 million.


Starting in 2021 the Communications Fund includes the tower budget, which had previously been part of the general fund. Budget revenues for 2021 are $795,188, up from $639,152 in 2020. Budgeted expenditures are $1.19 million which includes a $553,494 capital outlay that comes from a $6.8 million anvil points distribution to the county. Capital outlay in the fund is typically carried over each year and designated for future upkeep and equipment replacement on the county broadband network.


The fleet management fund accounts for 6.5 FTEs and has budgeted revenues of $2.2 million, down from $2.4 million 2020. Budgeted expenditures are $2.6 million, down from $3.1 million in 2020.


Other funds with revenues/expenses of less than $500,000 include the Conservation Trust Fund, the Impact Fee trust fund, Weed and Pest Funds, the Fairfield Complex Fund, the Central Service Fund. You can find the adopted 2021 budget at