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Jefferson County commissioners approve 2013 budget

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District Attorney's office increases staff for Austin Sigg murder trial

By Ramsey Scott

Jefferson County will tighten its purse strings next year.

The $468.3 million 2013 budget for Jefferson County, approved Dec. 4 by County Commissioners Donald Rosier and Faye Griffin with Commissioner John Odom absent, represents a 1.3 percent decrease over last year. 

The adopted budget was $3.6 million less than what had been originally proposed for next year.

To help balance the budget, the county is dipping into reserve funds to make up a $20.9 million shortfall, including a transfer of $3.4 million into the social services fund.   

In its budget report, the county acknowledges such transfers are unsustainable, but the hope is that once the economy improves, the demand for social services will decline. 

The county is expecting a mixed bag regarding its 2013 revenue stream. Revenues from both sales tax and fuel tax are expected to rise by about 2 percent, bringing in an additional $1.2 million, with most of that coming from sales tax.

Yet revenue from property taxes is expected to be down 1.3 percent from this year as a result of lower valuations. While still significant, that is a much smaller decline than the nearly 5 percent drop in property-tax revenue from 2011 to 2012. 

While the county doesn’t expect much growth next year in property-tax revenues, it is predicting 2 percent growth in 2014.

Jeffco will keep the same mill levy as last year, 25.978, while also keeping the temporary mill levy reduction of 1.632 in place for another year. 

The county is also projecting vehicle ownership-tax revenue to decrease $1.49 million over this year. 

The county’s total operating budget for 2013 will be $344.5 million, a decrease of $3.1 million from this year. The capital budget will be $38.4 million, an increase of $7.9 million.

The capital budget includes a mandatory updating of the county’s voting equipment at $4 million; IT upgrades, $1.8 million; and airport improvements, $9.6 million. The airport improvements will be almost completely reimbursed through federal grants.

Revenue for 2013 is projected at $362 million, a 0.5 percent increase over this year. Savings include $231,000 by not approving four FTEs; the Planning and Zoning Division left a position vacant, saving $65,000; the sheriff’s budget was decreased by $500,000 from the initially proposed spending plan; and the road and bridge fund was cut by $1 million.

 

DA gets extra positions
for Sigg trial

As part of reducing overall spending, requests to add employees to the county’s payroll from several divisions were denied or withdrawn.

While the county has not budgeted pay increases for employees and has reduced its payroll by a little more than $2 million, those savings have been offset by a large increase in the cost of employee benefits. 

Medical insurance premiums for employees have increased by 5 percent. While the county is not increasing pay, it is covering 50 percent of the jump in benefit costs.  

The district attorney’s office will gain an additional 2½ full-time employees to help it deal with the Austin Sigg murder trial, which, according to DA’s spokeswoman Pam Russell, could be a drawn-out affair and a longtime drain on resources.

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.