Alamosa County commissioners adopt 2018 budget

ALAMOSA — After reviewing the preliminary numbers throughout the fall, Alamosa County Commissioners adopted the budget for 2018 at yesterday's meeting. Alamosa County Chief Finance Officer Brittney DeHerrera said this is one of the most difficult budgets she has worked on because of the county's various capital improvement projects.

"Alamosa County is fortunate to have several large projects currently in progress and on the horizon," DeHerrera said in a letter to the commissioners, "but with those projects also come increases in demand for county services and dollars with the majority of those requests currently falling on the general fund, as well as the day to day operational requirements of each county department."

The county's revenue is projected to be $74,325,865. Most of the revenue is intergovernmental, meaning it comes from other government agencies like grants and the state, along with service charges. Only $4.4 million of the total comes from property taxes, compared to last year's $4.2 million.

Mill levies have stayed the same, but the assessed valuation has increased property taxes from last year. Only the general fund, department of human services, retirement fund, debt service fund and road and bridge receive property tax dollars. One county mill is equal to about $175,556 in property tax so the general fund will receive $3,576,941 in taxes for 2018, up from 2017's $3,404,102.

The projected expenditures for 2018 are $62,491,731. The largest portion of that is $16,168,909 for capital improvement projects, like the new courthouse and jail expansion, airport runway resurfacing, Lane 6 North improvement and Mosca's new wastewater infrastructure. Operating the county's department of human services will cost $15.95 million. The department of public health's budget is $3.75 million. The road and bridge department is budgeted for $3,011,897.

The general fund is another large portion of the county's budget with $8,799,412 expected in revenue and $9,736,467 in expenditures. Once beginning fund balances are factored in, Alamosa County will end the 2018 fiscal year with a projected balance of $2,260,178.

"You can see how much the expenditures are outgaining our revenues," said DeHerrera at Wednesday's meeting. "We know it's going to be a challenge every year meeting the different operational needs...Right now for 2018's budget and moving forward at this point, we're looking at budgeting into reserves. We'll have to work on that all the time."

The majority of the general fund goes to operating the sheriff's department with $4,402,371 in expenditures.

"If the sheriff's budget can stay at $3.9 or $4 million, we can break even," DeHerrera said. "Any time we're spending over 4 million in the general fund, that's going to come out of our reserves. That's just the rule of thumb right now."

The entire budget will be available for public viewing on the county's website by the end of the year.

"For the most part I think we put together a very conservative budget and a budget we can live with this next year," said Alamosa County Commissioner Darius Allen. "It's going to be a challenge to see what happens in the future."