Grand County budgets cautiously for 2021
Grand County’s budget for 2021 shows cutbacks in spending as the full economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to muddy forecasts.
The county has allocated $47.5 million in spending for the upcoming year while planning for revenues of $47.6 million. The budget will leave the county with a surplus of $44,992 for the year while still providing funding for certain promises.
In 2020, the county originally budgeted $52.2 million in expenses compared to $52.6 million in revenue. Actual revenue for 2020 is projected at $6 million less while the county cut back $10 million worth of spending.
Property and sales taxes are the largest sources of revenue for the county followed by intergovernmental revenues. The county found that construction activity has been slowing down, while real estate values went up by about 2.15% this year. Retail and recreation spending have increased by 9% from 2019.
Of the revenues expected in 2021, property taxes are forecasted at $12.2 million while sales taxes are expected to bring in $7.3 million. This number is $400,000 less than the current sales tax projection for 2020.
From lodging taxes, the county is expecting $919,000 in 2021, equal to the amount collected this year. These funds are restricted to tourism resources.
The county said that intergovernmental revenues, which come from approximately 145 different sources, carry a high degree of uncertainty in 2021. The largest of that revenue source is the Highway Users Tax and Payment in lieu of Taxes, with $2.7 million and $1.8 million conservatively budgeted for next year’s revenues.
As for expenses next year, 46% of the $47.5 million will go toward personnel, a $518,000 decrease from the 2020 budget. Operating makes up the 52% of expenses, up $85,000 from this year. Capital spending will take a $2.8 million dollar cut from 2020 with just $1.5 million budgeted for 2021.
The departments with some of the biggest budgets include the sheriff’s office, emergency medical services, and road and bridge.
The sheriff’s office has been allocated $7 million in expenses compared to a projected $2.4 million in revenue. One notable expense for the sheriff’s office is $50,000 for a new water rescue program, of which the sheriff’s office will be one of multiple partners.
EMS is planning for $4.5 million in revenue compared to $4.6 million in expenses. Road and bridge has allocated $8.5 million in expenses compared to $3.8 million in revenue.
One significant expense for road and bridge is the $400,000 allocated to repair and planning, which will go toward future improvements on Red Dirt Hill.
The public has long called for safety improvements to the stretch of US Highway 40 between Granby and Tabernash. Following a safety study on the road, discussions with the Colorado Department of Transportation revealed that CDOT would be willing to finance safety improvements if the county paid for the design, estimated to cost $400,000.
The county is expected to officially approve the 2021 budget on Dec. 8.
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The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for parts of Grand County as heavy storms move over the Colorado mountains.