County Beat: Oct. 28, 2021

Budget season is underway in Rio Blanco County. Screencap from RBC’s YouTube channel.

RBC I Budget season is underway in Rio Blanco County. Combined decreases in projected revenue total $2.4 million, primarily from property taxes (-$685K) charges for service (-$311K) investment earnings (-$256K) capital grants and donations (-$1.1mil) and miscellaneous (-$35K). 

Despite projected decreases, overall budgeted revenues for 2022 are up slightly (about 1%) over 2021 numbers at $24.9 million. The increases total $3.7 million and come from the budget omission of 2021 Federal Mineral Lease/Severance Tax/PILT allocations ($1.7mil) to be used in 2022 operations. An additional $2 million in revenue is from grant funds for related expenditures through Public Health and the Department of Human Services. Sales taxes also represent an increase of $500K.

Based on current proposed expenditures for each department, expenditures for operations in 2022 exceed revenues by approximately $2.5 million. Departments were asked to propose flat or decreased budgets initially, before cuts are considered. The closure of the detention center represents the main expenditure decrease so far–a reduction of approximately $779K mostly from cutting employee salaries/benefits. Personnel related expenditures will increase by $264K in the Sheriff’s Office, with four detention center staffers moving over. The detention center budget for 2022 is $228K for purchased/contract services to house inmates in Moffat County.

Overall county expenditures in 2022 are budgeted to increase 5.3% or $1.6 million in 2022. Major expenditure increases so far include a 1% healthcare cost increase, supplies ($158K) and purchased/contract services ($313K). Repairs and maintenance are also budgeted to increase by about $1.2 million from 2021, mostly due to bi-annual road resurfacing work.

Notable expenditure decreases are in capital projects (-$1.69 mil) and personnel (-$800K).

Total fund balances for all funds in 2022 are approximately $73 million, down $6.7 million from 2021 estimated balance of $80 million.

Preliminary county budget workshops for the proposed 2022 budget are ongoing. You can find the proposed 2022 budget on the county’s website at rbc.us/160/Budget-Finance. The HT will cover workshops in more detail as the process moves forward. 

You can view recordings of the department budget workshops on the county’s YouTube page at https://bit.ly/2ZsugvJ

FAIRFIELD CENTER

Fairfield Center director Bruce Bair said building usage is as high as ever, despite an overall decline in public event revenue. Major uses include the Chuckwagon senior meal program, COVID testing/vaccinations and increased demand for Department of Human Services assistance, according to Bair.

WEED & PEST

Jane Turnburke shared a brief update on the weed and pest district, noting recent vehicle winterization efforts and some recent chemical sales. She also said the district was looking into offering a pesticide workshop.

CEMETERY

Commissioners Gates and Moyer also interviewed Teresia Reed for an appointment to the Meeker Cemetery board. If appointed Reed will serve a six-year term. Interview discussion revolved around the potential for Meeker and Rangely cemetery districts to work together. Reed also expressed interest in establishing more specific policies for cemetery usage to better set expectations for grieving families up front. The board will make an official decision about appointment at their next regular meeting.

REGULAR MEETING

RBC Commissioners approved various airport related items including an extension of project completion date for a drainage project at the Meeker Airport to next July. Contractor TDA Construction and county staff involved with the project requested the extension due to supply chain delays. They also improved reimbursement requests from the FAA for pavement maintenance projects for both Rangely and Meeker airports. Combined project costs total about $446K, most of which is covered by federal funding.

The board approved a joint funding agreements with USGS for operation and maintenance of streamflow gaging stations and water quality sampling sites on Piceance Creek, Corral Gulch, Yellow Creek and the White River. Combined costs for all sites total $134,532 and are split approximately between Solvay Chemical/Natural Soda ($97.7K) USGS ($17.K) Groundwater Streamflow Information Program funds ($6K) the Meeker Sanitation District ($2K) and Rio Blanco County ($11.5K). 

The board also: 

accepted a Colorado Department of Agriculture grant for $36,109 designated  specifically for “agricultural events” to be used for the county fair.

approved a service agreement with VaxCare that distributes vaccines to public health and collects insurance payments for vaccinations, which are then reimbursed to the county.

approved MOUs to participate in and receive Colorado opioid settlement funds

entered Executive Session pursuant to §24-6-402(4)(e) C.R.S. determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations: developing strategy for negotiations: and instructing negotiators.