County begins its ’09 budget

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RBC — Diane Sorensen, county budget director, passed out thick notebooks to Rio Blanco County commissioners at Monday’s meeting.
The notebooks contained copies of the county’s proposed 2009 budget. Thus began a process that will culminate with the adoption of a final budget before Dec. 15.
But for Sorensen and her staff, the process started back in July.
The notebooks given to county commissioners Monday “represent the recommendations and needs of each individual department for their respective department’s needs,” Sorensen said.
Then, the departments’ requests were compiled and analyzed, Sorensen said. If the requests could be covered by predicted revenues and fund balance, they were then ready for review by the commissioners.
“Which is where we are today, presenting (the commissioners) with the proposed budget,” Sorensen said. “The next step is for the (commissioners) to meet with each department head to go over their proposed budget.”
After commissioners meet with departments, which will happen over the coming weeks, they make their recommendations to Sorensen, and she and her staff will prepare a final draft of the budget.
Commission Chairman Forrest Nelson said the budget meetings “get intense sometimes, but that’s what we should do.”
Nelson said the budget meetings with department heads are an important part of the process.
“You just can’t say you’re going to cut 10 percent for everybody,” Nelson said. “Because there are some departments that have more needs than others.”
A public hearing on the proposed budget will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 in the County Administration Building.