Roads, raises, capital projects prioritized in county budget for 2022
Property, sales tax revenues growing significantly
Grand County is planning to spend $60.7 million next year including an additional $3.2 million on personnel, $2.9 million on asphalt maintenance and $250,000 on affordable housing.
The county is looking to dip into its reserves in the next couple years to address some needed capital improvements. While still looking conservatively at revenues over the next few years, county officials believe these investments can be made without significant risk.
In the 2022 budget message, county commissioners explained that next year’s budget is meant to address immediate needs for capital and operating expenditures while creating a surplus for the upcoming years. Grand is expecting to operate at a deficit from 2023-2025 to cover these investments, but existing county fund balances should cover those extra costs while maintaining minimum fund balances.
The county’s revenues have seen significant growth, with the largest sources being property tax and sales tax. Grand is projecting $60.7 million in revenues next year, which would be $9 million more than the county’s revenue in 2019.
Grand County’s real estate valuations this year have jumped up 16.5% compared to 2020. Grand is expecting to collect $15.9 million in property taxes for 2022, including the additional $1.6 million that taxpayers approved for Grand County Emergency Medical Services.
Sales taxes this year through October are up $1.5 million or 23% from the same period in 2020, while lodging taxes are up 54%. The county is expecting sales tax to reach nearly $10 million next year with lodging tax revenue budgeted to be $1.7 million. Lodging taxes are restricted to promoting tourism resources in Grand.
Construction activity has also increased dramatically because of rising values combined with the aftermath of the East Troublesome Fire, which destroyed more than 500 structures in October 2020. Building permits and the revenue collected from the permits has more than doubled from 2020 levels, while the valuation of those projects are 160% higher than 2020.
Intergovernmental revenue and grants makes up the remaining 28.6% of the budgeted revenues for 2022, which come from a mix of sources. The largest will be highway user tax, which should bringing $2.8 million to the county next year, and payment in lieu of tax is expected to be $1.8 million. The 2022 budget will get a one-time receipt of $1.5 million from the American Rescue Plan act.
Of Grand’s budgeted $62.8 million in expenses for 2022, 43.7% of that will be spent on personnel. That’s up $3.2 million from 2021 in response to the severe employee vacancies across county departments. The budget message explained that the hope with these raises is to make the county more competitive with similar entities.
Grand’s operating expenses for 2022 are expected to be $27.5 million, up $5.3 million. The largest increase for those expenditures will be for asphalt repair and maintenance — up $1.1 million — to total nearly $3 million in expected spending.
The county is looking to spending more than $10 million on roads over the next few years, with a projected $3.8 million in spending for 2023, $3.6 million in 2024 and $2.6 million in 2025. Following that investment, the county hopes regular road maintenance declines to a lower, more sustainable level.
The county has allocated $250,000 to affordable housing in 2022 and is expecting to budget a similar amount in 2023. The budget message explained that these amounts represent the county’s share of projects anticipated to be in partnership with other entities and local organizations.
The Grand Foundation has previously approached the commissioners about contributing a matching $250,000 to assist in buying 11 one-bedroom condos that could be converted into affordable housing.
Other expenses include the Emergency Watershed Projects for post-fire flood and debris flow. Work is already underway for that project, but the county has budgeted another $1 million for 2022. Those costs are expected to be reimbursed by state and federal agencies.
Another $1.4 million is going to the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Fund and the Colorado Tourism Board. These contributions are funded by specific taxes that are restricted to spending on certain activities.
The county’s budget message also highlighted the growing need for facility repairs and maintenance at county buildings. The Grand County Jail needs $2 million for critical repairs, which the county is looking to pay for in 2023.
The Grand County Jail has needed serious updates since at least 2019, when voters opposed a .2% sales tax increase to help pay for a new $28 million public safety facility.
Also in 2023, the county is considering partnering with Grand Fire to share the costs of a new building that would include space for EMS personnel, ambulances, the sheriff’s department, and Grand County Search and Rescue. That cost is currently anticipated at $500,000.
For 2023, the county is additionally looking at paying off the lease purchase contract for the new Department of Human Services building, projected at $1.3 million. Then, in 2024, the county is considering a $2.8 million investment into remodeling that building and adding a parking lot so additional departments can operate in the same facility.
Reaching out even further into 2025, the county is looking at another $2 million towards repairs and new construction for the various road and bridge shops across the county.
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