Jeffco’s 2018 proposed budget raises concerns

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Expenses would outpace revenue by almost $123 million

By Corinne Westeman

Jeffco has proposed another budget in which its expenditures are outpacing its revenues, which the commissioners stressed is not sustainable.

“Do we forego long-term stability for short-term gain?” Commissioner Don Rosier asked Tuesday morning at a Jeffco Board of County Commissioners formal hearing on the 2018 proposed budget. “Everybody needs to be on that same page when we go through (the budget).”

The county manager’s office first introduced the budget to the commissioners and the public at the commissioners’ staff briefing on Oct. 3.

The hearing preceded a telephone town hall on the 2018 budget and other issues, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening.

According to staff presenters Mary O’Neil, director of budget and risk management, and Daniel Conway, budget manager, Jeffco’s projected revenues are estimated at $432.9 million for 2018. However, the two said Jeffco’s estimated expenditures is $555.8 million. Thus, the county has budgeted about $100 million in intra-county transactions and will withdraw $22.9 million from the county’s fund balance to make up the difference.

Commissioner Libby Szabo said that this is one of the reasons why the county started Resilient Jeffco, its movement to become more efficient.

“We have to be the prime example for that to (the public),” Szabo continued, “that we’re not asking them to do anything that we’re not willing to do.”

Commissioner Casey Tighe added that he agreed with his colleagues point, but also wanted to mention some of the positives he saw in the budget. For instance, he said, for the 2018 budget, the county projects needing to use $22.9 million from the fund balance. This amount has dropped $6.7 million from the $29.6 million in the 2017 adopted budget, he emphasized.

“We are dipping into the fund balance, which is a concern, but the rate of expenditure in the fund balance is lower than it was last year,” Tighe continued. “So, I think we have made progress with Resilient Jeffco. ... And, the number of new (full-time employees) requested was lower this year than it was in years past. That’s something that I think is good news.”

O’Neil and Conway said they will be working with the commissioners through the rest of October to alter the budget as needed and agreed with their comments on long-term sustainability.

The Board of County Commissioners will hold the 2018 budget adoption hearing at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5.
The full 2018 Proposed Budget Book is available at https://www.jeffco.us/3331/Proposed-Budget.

Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-350-1043 or cwesteman@evergreenco.com, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.