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Public hearing on county's budget slated for Dec. 3

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Delta County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the 2019 county budget on Monday, Dec. 3, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 236 of the county courthouse.

County administrator Robbie LeValley points out some major accomplishment for the 2019 budget.

Delta County is seeing an increase in sales tax and an improving local economy. In 2018 Delta County has experienced sales tax revenue increases of approximately 10 percent as of October, leading to increased revenues projected for the 2019 proposed budget.

In 2015 the county's population was 29,973, down from a peak of 30,889. In 2017 the county population rebounded to 30,578.

Continued funding for economic development in key areas will result in long term benefit for Delta County.

Short-term funding to the road and bridge fund from the passage of Senate Bill 2018-1 allows for funding of additional planned road improvements, based on the county's five-year plan.

Cost of health insurance for employees increased by 5 percent, compared to double digit increases every year in previous years.

The county's investment in broadband has yielded increased economic activity across the county and has resulted in Delta County becoming an attractive place to expand existing business and attract a location neutral workforce.

LeValley also pointed out major challenges for Delta County.

Economic development. There is a need to diversify and strengthen our current economic base.

Revenues. Assessed valuation is trending slightly lower, and the impact of the Gallagher Amendment, embedded in the Colorado State Constitution, continues to decrease residential property tax revenue. The current residential rate is 7.1 percent; however, the projected rate going forward is 6.2 percent. This decrease will impact the general fund, human services, economic development programs, and road and bridge funds.

Public Safety Funding. Demand for public safety services is growing, including sheriff, district attorney and criminal justice services. In addition, Delta County is seeing significant growth in court activity, which will necessitate an unfunded state mandate to increase the number of courtrooms and support infrastructure in the existing courthouse.

Health and human services. Needs are increasing in the at-risk population of Delta County served by Health and Human Services.

Unstable funding from the state and federal government. Severance tax is projected to remain the same in 2019 as the amount the county received in 2018. PILT (Payment in Lieu of Tax) is projected to stay relatively the same as in 2018.

LeValley noted, "Thanks to responsible fiscal management and thoughtful stewardship of taxpayer dollars, Delta County continues to have a healthy fund balance."

Overall fund balances are budgeted to be 25 percent of appropriations, which is in line with policy and recommended practice of Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The decades-long practice of fund balances by Delta County has enabled the county to fund major capital projects without the requirement of long-term bonding and the interest costs associated with leveraged debt.

More information about the 2019 Delta County budget is available at www.deltacounty.com. The 2019 budget is also available in hardcopy at the Delta County Courthouse, Room 227.

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