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Commission approves county’s tentative ’04 operating budget

By Sun Advocate

Carbon commissioners met with department heads, financial personnel and interested citizens last Tuesday to solidify the county’s tentative budget for 2004.
Many department heads asked for a number of items the county could not fit into the budget and the commissioners had to refuse to fund the requests.
Carbon County clerk-auditor Robert Pero presented the county’s tentative budgetary guidelines to the commission during the Nov. 25 meeting.
According to Pero, the projected county revenues from property taxes for next year will be $8,564,600 for the general fund. The figure is up only $14,459 from the revenues of last year.
The projected revenues include $634,000 from municipal services or fund 20.
Pero presented a narrative spelling out the things that would affect the budget for the coming year.
•Carbon government will pick up the increased cost in medical insurance for county employees at a rate of 5.3 percent.
“We are very lucky on this increase,” said the clerk-auditor. “Many other organizations increases are in the double digit figures. Our insurance broker told me this is the lowest increase he has seen for any organization this year. ”
•Requests for salary adjustments came from a number of county departments.
The departments included the treasurer’s office, the assessor, engineering, ambulance garage, highway, planning and zoning and animal control.
Pero recommended that no raises or salary adjustments be given for any county employee or department.
•The county will allocate no revenues into the tax stability trust fund next year.
The program was established by the Utah Legislature in 2000. The law allows counties to, “by ordinance, establish and maintain a tax stability and trust fund for the purpose of preserving funds during years with favorable tax revenues for use during years with less favorable tax revenues.”
•In addition, hiring no new employees or making changes in staff for the entire county system was also recommended.
Requests for additional employees in 2004 came from the assessor’s office, the justice court, geographical information systems and the county sheriff’s departments.
•No funding will come from the county’s coffers for the Care-a-van service.
The program, which provides transportation services for the elderly residents and persons with disabilities, requested $13,000 in county funding.
•The county will approve no funding to the fairgrounds for capital improvements and equipment.
However, revenues for fairgrounds projects could come through the Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District.
•County government will not fund the water coordinator’s position in 2004.
Last year, the county commission reduced the funding for the position.
The tentative 2004 budget eliminates the funding.
•There were to be no departmental adjustments in the county’s budget.
But the commissioners asked Pero to review some areas and possibly use money from the interest earned from the Tax Stability Fund to give increases in a couple of special areas where employees have gained extra certification or have special duties.
The ambulance service was one of the county departments the commission gave a raise because the employees’ state certification has been improved by one level.
Pero also presented a scenario to the commissioners in which the lawmakers could give employees a 2.5 percent increase in wages. The action included the following items.
•Reduce Carbon County’s contribution to the Gooseberry fund to $30,009.
Revenues allocated by county government to the fund had been budgeted at $100,000 in the past.
The money is earmarked to use to deal with Sanpete’s proposed Gooseberry-Narrows project.
•Eliminate the $12,000 budgeted for a federal government lobbyist the county has been employing in recent years.
•Eliminate a new printer request from data processing for $9,000.
•Reduce the engineering departments equipment requests from $29,400 to $7,000.
•Reduce equipment requested by geographical information systems from $24,000 to $16,000.
•Eliminate a transport vehicle and uniforms from the jails budget, which would result in a drop of $110,000 to $75,000.
•Eliminate cost for a vehicle from the maintenance and abatement department moving those requests from $50,000 to $10,000.
•Reduce the county law enforcement’s request for equipment from $235,000 to $120,000.
After the presentation of the budget some adjustments were made to the budget by the commissioners, based on discussions with department heads.
The commissioners were also able to improve the budget by transferring $20,000 of interest out of the tax stability fund into the general budget.
The cost of living raise of 2.5 percent was approved by the commission and included as part of the budget.

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