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Jeffco to boost spending slightly in 2012

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Increase comes amid declining revenue

By Emile Hallez

Staff Writer

Jefferson County is planning to spend about $12 million more in 2012 than in 2011, despite a $4 million decline in predicted revenue, according to a budget proposed last week.

Revenue is down slightly largely due to a 4 percent decrease in property-value assessments, which are anticipated to bring in $7.7 million less than in the current year. The proposed budget is about $489 million. The current year’s budget was approved at nearly $477 million.

Notably, the proposed budget includes a significant cut in the county’s annual contribution to the Jefferson Economic Council and other organizations. The budget also leaves the library’s mill levy allocation flat, resulting in more than $1 million less revenue for the system.

County Administrator Ralph Schell noted increased demands predicted for social services, and he explained that although the revenue decrease is significant, the county had previously been expecting a more dramatic decline in property assessments.

“We had previously thought it was going to be more negative,” Schell said, citing an earlier prognostication of a 7 percent decrease.

The increased spending will be covered by “intra-county transfers” and a $31.4 million depletion of the county’s savings. Much of the funds will cover road improvements and other capital projects, along with increased expenses of about $600,000 for the 2012 presidential election, county officials said.

By contrast, the county is spending $18.7 million of reserve funds in the current year.

Though the county is planning to spend reserves, it is not doing so to meet ongoing expenses, county staff said, explaining that such funds will cover capital projects.

And though the county’s overall mill levy would be unchanged, 0.2 mills would be moved from the general fund to the road and bridge fund.

The library fund, the county’s allocation of which has been contested recently by proponents of an independent library district, would remain at 3.225 mills. Though the library is eligible to receive up to 3.5 mills, the county commissioners have set the allocation significantly lower for years.

Overall, Jeffco plans to employ 2,883 full-time workers next year, a decrease of 46.5 positions approved for 2011. Though more than 100 positions have been vacant in all county divisions, the Sheriff’s Office would be allowed to hire deputies for jobs that have been on hold, and the justice services division would be granted funds to cover four positions tied to the recent bail-bond program overhaul, which were previously funded by grants.

Jeffco also plans to give more than $580,000 less to outside agencies next year, despite funneling $350,000 into the recently formed C-470 Coalition. Slated to receive fewer county funds are the Jefferson Economic Council, the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority, the Developmentally Disabled Resource Center and other entities. Though the contribution to the economic council would be cut by $75,000, funding would be eliminated entirely for the Jefferson Center for Mental Health and the Regional Air Quality Council.

A public hearing regarding the budget is planned for Nov. 15. The commissioners are slated to formally approve the 2012 budget on Dec. 6.

 

Contact Emile Hallez at emile@evergreenco.comor 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.