County projects constrict budget


ALAMOSA — With multiple projects in progress Alamosa County currently has a lot on its plate for 2018. The new courthouse and jail expansion, airport runway resurfacing, Lane 6 North improvement and Mosca’s new wastewater infrastructure are all severely impacting preliminary budget projections for the next fiscal year.

“Preparing the 2018 budget is one of the most challenging and demanding budgets to be presented during my time,” Alamosa County Chief Financial Officer Brittney DeHerrera said during the Wednesday Alamosa County Commissioners meeting.

“Alamosa County is fortunate to have several large projects currently in progress and on the horizon, 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.”

Housing 16 departments, the general fund is the largest portion of the county’s budget with $8,753,730 expected in revenue and $9,450,224 in expenditures, ending the 2018 fiscal year with a projected $2,408,563 once beginning fund balances are factored in.

Mill levies have stayed the same, but the assessed valuation has increased property taxes from last year. 2018’s total taxes will be $4,430,686 compared to $4,251,422. Only the general fund, department of human services 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 $3,547,639 in taxes for 2018, up from 2017’s $3,404,102.

“We also had the adjustment for the residential rates so the county saw actually less property tax dollar wise,” said DeHerrera.

The jail expansion and new courthouse are being funded by $23,750,000 in certificates of participation, an $847,500 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and a $1,143,358 grant from the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Committee and the one-cent sales tax.

“The county will continue to struggle each year to meet the operating and financial demands for the sheriff’s budget,” said DeHerrera. “ The voter approved sales tax funding is currently not sufficient to meet the increased demand in the number of inmates and housing and care required for those inmates.”

While 95 percent of the current resurfacing project is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, $150,000 came from the general fund and next year $62,500 will go towards a wildlife fence.

“Along with current FAA regulations on the airport, the costs of operating and maintaining the airport are far exceeding the current revenue dollars.”

For the road and bridge department’s $10.7 million Lane 6 North project slated to begin in 2022, the county needs to save roughly $340,000 for the next five years to obtain a match.

This is a preliminary budget with fluctuating conservative figures. Staff requests, such as additional deputies for the sheriff’s department, have not been factored in and the county only knows the fund balance they started with in 2017.

“From there, it’s all projections,” said DeHerrera. “I’m projecting what I think we’re going to receive in revenue, what we’re going to spend in expenditures and what we’re going to be transferring in from the sales tax...There’s a lot of variables in there for the general fund.”

The county will have a public hearing about the budget on November 15. The final budget will be adopted on December 6.