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  • Dylan Anderson

Routt County Commissioners to approve $112 million budget on Tuesday

County revenues are projected to exceed $100 million for the first time ever.

The Routt County Commissioners are set to approve the $112 million 2024 county budget on Tuesday, a roughly 24% increase over last year’s approved budget.

The budget also projects $101 million in revenues, a 26% increase over last year. If those revenues come in as expected, 2024 will be the first time Routt County will exceed $100 million in revenue in one year.

Budget approval typically happens in December and had been set for Dec. 12, but was delayed after the Colorado General Assembly’s Special Session in November. While the legislature made some changes to property taxes, it wasn’t expected to impact the county budget significantly.

The idea of having more expenses than revenues in a year isn’t necessarily uncommon for the county, as reserves are put away for future expenses such as replacing equipment or repaving roads. When forecasted out over the next 20 years to 2043 with revenues, expenses and reserves, the budget is balanced, according to Budget Director Dan Strnad.

Budget approval is set for 9:35 a.m. on Tuesday in the Commissioner's Hearing Room.

Where does Routt County get $101 million in revenues?

Of the record amount of revenues, the largest share comes from property taxes, accounting for 28% of all county revenues. The total $28.7 million in property taxes that will be collected this year is 14% increase over last year, though not all of the increase is going directly to county operations.

The increase includes additional revenues for voter-approved mill levies housed within the county including the Purchase for Development Rights program, Developmental Disabilities program and the Museum and Heritage Fund. With record property valuation increases across the state, each of these funds are set to see a 54% increase in revenue, or $2 million more collectively.

The county itself will see an additional $1.4 million in property tax collections, as the Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights (known as TABOR) limits revenue increases to a measure of new construction and inflation. The 6.2% increase in property taxes collected by the county amounts to 1.2% for new construction and 5% for inflation.

The next largest share of revenues is from the federal government, representing 23% of the whole budget or $23.6 million. About $15.4 million of this comes to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and $4.8 million to the county’s Department of Human Services. Federal revenue is projected to increase 88% or $7.2 million this year, with all of that going toward expansion at the airport.

Fees generate 19% or $19.2 million, with most of this coming from various fees associated with the airport. Fees account for more than $2 million in additional county revenue, with a large portion of that being at the airport.

Sales taxes amount to 13% of projected revenues, totaling $13.3 million, and dollars from the state are 10% of revenues or $10.5 million in total. The county is projecting to collect $888,000 more in sales taxes in 2024 than last year.

How is Routt County spending $112 million?

The largest portion of the county budget — about 37% — pays for county personnel, a total of $37.4 million. This total includes an additional $1.9 million in 2024 to give employees a 5% raise, and the addition of a total of 3.27 equivalent full time staff. Overall, the personnel budget saw a 12% increase over 2023.

Notable staff additions include a records supervisor for the Routt County Sheriff’s Office and a new deputy district attorney for the 14th Judicial District. Routt County is paying for 47% of the new deputy DA, which is decided by population between Routt, Grand and Moffat Counties. This additional position in the DA’s office will focus on “less-serious” crimes and hopes to free up others in the office to work on more complex cases.

The county is also adding a new community health specialist position that will help coordinate a number of public health initiatives to improve health outcomes locally. The position is funded through a grant.

County operations make up the next largest share of the budget, at 33% or $37.4 million. The largest portion of this comes from the Purchase for Development Rights program, which intends to spend about $10.2 million in 2024. That number spends this year’s revenue and program reserves left over from 2023. The Road and Bridge and Human Services departments are the next largest portions of operations, totaling $4.2 million and $4.7 million respectively.

Some notable operational expenses include $75,000 to help manage the Climate Action Plan, $71,000 to support the Yampa River Water Quality program, and a $25,000 contribution to the Yampa River Fund. This section of the budget also includes a $300,000 contribution to the city of Steamboat Springs to support extending the Yampa River Core Trail west and an additional $184,000 in expenses for elections as it is a presidential year.

Almost all of the rest of the budget is made up of capital projects, with a large portion of them being at the airport. In total, Routt County intends to spend $29.8 million on capital projects in 2024, which accounts for 27% of the budget.

The airport has nearly $16 million in capital projects slated for this year, including $8.5 million in work to improve the taxiways, and $5.1 million to start designing phase one of the terminal expansion and demolish some hangers.

In addition to the airport, the county will replace two aging wastewater treatment plants in Phippsburg and Milner, costing $4.1 million and $3.5 million respectively. This is being paid for with money from the state’s revolving loan fund, grants from the Department of Local Affairs and nearly $3.5 million in pandemic relief dollars the county received in 2021 and 2022.

Top Photo Caption: The Historic Routt County Courthouse. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)

Budget graphics courtesy of Routt County.


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