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Posted on: October 19, 2020

Daily Summaries- Budget Workshops Oct 19-Nov 5

Budget Workshop-01

Note: The Board of County Commissioners will hold Department Budget Workshops on October 19 through November 5, 2020 at the Historic Courthouse, 555 Main Street, 3rd floor BOCC Hearing Room in Meeker, CO. On Tuesday, October 20, 2020 the Workshop will be held in Rangely, CO at the Rio Blanco County Annex Building, 17497 Hwy 64. If you need special accommodations please call (970) 878-9440 in advance of the workshops so that reasonable accommodations may be made. The start time for each day is listed below, department workshops will follow in order listed.

Note: Budget Workshops are for discussion purposes only and for the BOCC to provide direction to the Budget and Finance Director to prepare the 2021 budget. No decisions are made during the workshops and adjustments may occur before the formal budget adoption on December 15, 2020.

 

Monday October 19 starting at 8:30 am

Budget and Finance Director Janae Stanworth presented the proposed 2021 Budget to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).  Stanworth recapped with the BOCC about the budget and upcoming budget deficit before addressing the specific departments.

Board of County Commissioners
In the proposed budget, the BOCC had not met the requested 5% reduction despite making several cuts in travel expenses, membership dues to various organizations and other expenses. The board discussed multiple ways to reach the 5% reduction.  Commissioners Rector and Moyer volunteered to donate a portion of their salaries back to the county in order to reach the 5%. Ty Gates, who will join the BOCC in January, was in the audience and also agreed to make the donation back to the county.  The BOCC felt it was important to look at the salary category (or tier) that the Commissioners are currently in as a possible way to reduce budget in the future. Because the state regulates all elected officials’ salaries, any requested changes in category/tier could not take effect until the next election cycle. The board indicated they’d continue discussion in 2021 regarding this change.

Budget & Finance
The Budget & Finance Department was able to meet their 5% reduction in spending, predominantly through personnel expenses.  Director Stanworth took a voluntary reduction in salary. The position of DHS Accounting Technician will be consolidated into the Budget & Finance Department (from DHS) and the duties will be facilitated by the Director and the current Accounting Technician.  Additionally, the Budget & Finance Department made significant cuts in travel, training, postage and publications to the newspaper.  Stanworth presented to the BOCC her request to change payroll to 26 rather than 12 pay periods per year, explaining that accruals and overtime would be much easier to calculate using the 26 pay periods.  The requested change will take additional time to facilitate, and there is not currently enough staff in the Budget and Finance Department to do so. Stanworth requested to allocate some time from the current BOCC/HR Administrative Assistant to help facilitate the additional work. 


Department of Public Affairs

The proposed Department of Public Affairs (consolidated from departments of Economic Development, Natural Resources, and Public Information) was presented as a “bare-bones” budget.  Stanworth indicated she built it as minimally as possible until the board decided exactly what duties the position would include.  Commissioner Woodruff questioned the necessity of the position, with explanations from Commissioners Rector and Moyer regarding the duties the position should perform to fill any gaps created by the elimination of Natural Resources and Economic Development.  The BOCC increased the proposed budget’s travel expenses to a total of $5,000, predominantly to attend NEPA and similar meetings and represent the County at the State and Regional levels.  The BOCC increased the purchased services by $5,000 to allow for minimal broadband marketing in 2021.


Sales and Use Tax

The BOCC confirmed previous discussions regarding their plan to fund the Sales and Use Tax Administrator position at 30 hours per week until June 2021, at which time they will reassess the future of the Department.  Deb Morlan, Sales and Use Tax Administrator, reminded the BOCC of the importance of the duties performed by her department.  Stanworth reiterated that the proposed change is to consolidate the services provided by the Sales and Use Tax Department with additional duties, not to eliminate the services that are currently provided. No additional changes were asked of the department at this time.



Tuesday October 20 (Rangely) starting at 1:00 pm

Rangely Airport
No additional changes made to the proposed budget.


Columbine Park

Facilities Manager Eric Jaquez indicated he reduced the Columbine Park budget to "bare-bones" in order to reach the 5% requested reduction.  He reduced staff hours allocated to the Park as well as cut purchased services as well as supplies expenses.  Jaquez indicated that he expects additional savings on utility costs due to the LED lights that were recently installed.  There was discussion about future improvements and care, indicating a need for more firm commitments from CNCC (Colorado Northwestern Community College) before any major investments (such as an indoor arena that has been designed for the CNCC rodeo team) take place.  

Wednesday October 21 starting at 8:30 am

Road & Bridge 
The BOCC thanked and applauded the Road & Bridge Department for their hard work in making the requested 5% reduction in spending.  Road & Bridge Director Dave Morlan stated that “there will be a reduction in county road services but we tried to make the cuts where the public will see the least amount of change.” The two biggest changes made to the Road & Bridge Department to achieve the 5% reduction came from adjustments to personnel (reduction in total staff hours) and cutting operational costs such as decreasing materials, aggregates, changes to the crack fill and chip seal programs.  The chip seal program will move from a 5 to 7 year cycle. According to Morlan, “this area was the most flexible when it came to cuts.” Road & Bridge has already implemented some of the proposed staff changes, and “so far the changes are going well,” Morlan stated.  The BOCC agreed that the department should keep some contingency funds available in case adjustments need to be made 2021.     

Solid Waste Landfill
The Solid Waste Landfill was able to meet the requested 5% reduction in spending as well.  For 2021 there are no capital improvement projects planned and supplies were decreased. Solid Waste Landfill will be sharing an employee with the Road & Bridge Department, a position that has historically been difficult to fill.  In 2020 the landfill saw a significant increase in usage and revenue, with projections indicating that increased usage will continue for the next 5 years.  At this point the landfill does not intend to raise rates in 2021 (rates were increased in 2020).  The Solid Waste Landfill is set up as an Enterprise Fund and while it does collect revenues, that money cannot be used to offset budget shortfalls in other areas of the county budget.

Thursday October 22 starting at 8:30 am

Human Resources (postponed to Wednesday October 28)

Coroner (postponed to Wednesday October 28)

District Attorney
The BOCC requested no changes to the proposed District Attorney budget.  The District Attorney serves Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco Counties, with Rio Blanco County responsible for 7.51% of the total District Attorney budget.  The BOCC thanked the District Attorney for keeping the budget as lean as possible during these difficult times.  


Monday October 26 starting at 8:30 am

County Surveyor

County Surveyor budget discussion revolved mostly around additional cuts to the fleet management charges.  Surveyor Leif Joy did not feel the additional cuts to this area would pose any problems to the services and functionality of the department.

 

Planning

The Planning Department was able to make significant cuts in their proposed 2021 budget.  Decreases came from removing the part-time assistant from the budget (a position that is currently vacant) and changes Joy anticipates making to data tracking.  Joy previously presented to the BOCC regarding creating an in-house database to replace EnerGov, a tracking software that is utilized by various county departments.  Joy and Stanworth anticipate that this change will have a savings of approximately $17,000/year.

 

GIS/Mapping

Changes to the proposed GIS/Mapping budget include decreasing Purchased Services by $16,000. Joy explained to the BOCC that currently this department is not using contract services like they have in the past because much of that work is done in-house.  He feels confident that the County can continue to offer services and perform its duties with the decrease in budget. 

 

Building Department

Much of the Building Department’s budget decrease revolved around the use of the proposed Administrative Specialist (currently the hours proposed are a 50/50 split between Building and Public Affairs). LaDonna Eubanks felt it was necessary to have personnel to provide customer service for the Department when no one else is available but this person could be working on other duties/tasks at the same time.  The Building Department decreased their fleet management charges by $11,500 and removed the part-time Building Inspector from the budget.  

 

Meeker Airport

The Meeker Airport budget discussion focused primarily on the future planning of Capital Improvement Projects for the airport.  Currently there are no projects scheduled for 2021, however there will need to be research done for a fuel system upgrade and a reseeding project in the near future.  There were no changes to the proposed budget.



Tuesday October 27 starting at 8:30 am

Museum

The Museum was able to cut approximately 6% out of their budget, no additional changes were made.


Attorney

The Attorney’s office was able to make the requested cuts, and included the county attorney cutting his wages by 5%.  An addition of 5% was cut from the contingency line item.

 

Communications

The Communications Department was able to make the requested 5% overall cut, and the BOCC directed Stanworth to add the requested $30,000 in the budget for VHF replacement for Cathedral and Lobo Towers. 


Wednesday October 28 starting at 8:30 am

White River Round-Up/Chuckwagon/Radino Senior Meal Services

The BOCC started the day’s budget workshops with a conversation with the public in attendance to clear up rumors and misinformation regarding the senior meal service in Rio Blanco County.  The BOCC assured those in attendance that there was never a plan to move meal preparation to Rangely, and that the board is 100% committed to not only continuing the program but to providing the meals in the best condition possible. 

Initially, the program did not meet the 5% reduction in spending. Discussion included potentially moving the program from the Department of Human Services to another department, mainly due to the lack of current personnel capacity to facilitate the grants and administer the program to the highest level.  The BOCC will continue discussion during future budget work sessions to attempt to find the best place/department/fit for the program.


There has been a flyer developed to distribute to concerned seniors. View it HERE

DHS

The Department of Human Services was not able to cut 5% out of their budget, however most of the programs within the department have state provisions and reimbursements.  There was discussion regarding collaborating some of the services with Moffat County DHS, although no  details have been decided.  The BOCC and DHS Director Barb Bofinger discussed the difficulty in finding and retaining caseworkers and the possibility of increasing the salary scale in order to attract applicants for those hard-to-fill positions.  

 

Human Resources

The Human Resources Department was able to meet the requested 5% cut in expenses, largely by decreasing the Director’s pay by $4560) and reducing the hours that the Administrative Assistant was allocated to the department.

 

Coroner

The Coroner was able to meet the requested 5% cut in expenses, and also volunteered to donate a portion of the salary back to the county. The actual wages for all elected officials are state regulated and must wait until the next election cycle if there was a requested change in wage tier (or category).  The Board of County Commissioners offered to donate a portion of their salary back to the county as well in 2020.


Thursday October 29 starting at 8:30 am

Weed & Pest 

The Weed & Pest Department was not able to meet the requested 5% cut, but it was recommended that the county offer a maximum of $15,000 for cost-sharing of chemicals to the public rather than the 2020 amount of $20,000.   


Fairfield

The Fairfield did not meet 5% requested reduction, no additional changes to proposed budget. BOCC will come back to the department after all other workshops to determine if reduction in budget is required.


IT

The IT Department was able to make a bit over a 5% reduction in the department.  The BOCC praised the work they did to reach the cut.


Clerk & Recorder

The Clerk & Recorder’s Office was not able to meet the requested 5% cut in the budget.  Ultimately the BOCC indicated that they’ll have to come back to the Clerk’s office next week once all numbers from the initial workshops are completed.  The BOCC won’t know if they’ll need to request additional cuts from the office until the updated numbers from all of the workshops come back recalculated.  The BOCC informed Clerk & Recorder Boots Campbell that the members of the Board have agreed to voluntarily donate 5% of their wages back to the county in order to help reach the requested 5% cut in their own department, and wanted to make sure she knew that was an option for her as well.  


Treasurer

The Treasurer was not able to make the 5% cut.  Ultimately the BOCC indicated that they’d have to come back to the Treasurer’s office next week once all numbers from the initial workshops are completed.  The BOCC won’t know if they’ll need to request additional cuts from the office until the update numbers from all of the other workshops come back recalculated.  The BOCC informed the Treasurer Rhonna Waldref that the members of the BOCC have agreed to voluntarily donate 5% of their wages back to the county in order to help reach the requested 5% cut in their own department, and wanted to make sure she knew that was an option for her as well.  


Assessor

The Assessor’s Office was not able to meet the requested 5% cut in the budget.  Ultimately the BOCC indicated that they’ll have to come back to the Assessor’s office next week once all numbers from the initial workshops are completed.  The BOCC won’t know if they’ll need to request additional cuts from the office until the updated numbers from all of the workshops come back recalculated.  BOCC mentioned the same voluntary donation back to the county that the BOCC has agreed to, and let the Assessor know it was an option for her as well.


Veterans

The Veterans Department was not able to cut the requested 5%.  The discussion was that the budget is so small ($19,685 total proposed for 2021) the BOCC indicated that they wouldn’t ask them to cut anything additional.


Emergency Management

The Emergency Management budget will be able to cut the requested 5% due to assurance from the Human Resources Director that whomever fills the vacated position (when current Emergency Manager Ty Gates joins the BOCC in January) will be hired at a lower wage.  There was also a decrease in fleet management charges and supplies.  When asked if the position could be part-time, Gates indicated that there was work to do year-round.


Friday October 30 starting at 8:30 am

Sheriff

The Sheriff manages three separate budgets including Patrol/Administration, the Detention Center/Jail, and Dispatch.

The Sheriff was able to meet the requested 5% cut on all departments.  

For the Patrol and Administration Budget- The only change during the workshop was adding an additional $5,000 back into the budget to help with costs of protective vests and equipment.

For the Detention Center budget- In order to meet the 5% cut, the Detention Center decreased allotted overtime funds and funds allocated to a Relief Detention Specialist. The total decrease in the proposed budget for personnel/wages of about $53,000 compared to 2020.  Travel, training, supplies, uniforms/clothing, and purchased services were also decreased.


For Dispatch- Proposed decrease in personnel expenses by about $15,000, which will only occur if the 911 board is able to help to cover that amount.   The board agreed that they understand the town of Meeker and Meeker Fire will be paying what they can for their portion of dispatch services in 2020, but the newly formed committee will need to work diligently in 2020 to figure out a fair and reasonable method for sharing expenditures of the dispatch center in order to keep it in Rio Blanco County. 


The Sheriff requested that the three budgets be combined for more flexibility between them, and Stanworth agreed to look into it and see if that is feasible from an accounting standpoint. 


Facilities

The Facilities Management department was able to cut 5% out of the budget by decreasing purchased services, supplies, tools and road and bridge services.  The BOCC agreed to add $5480 into the personnel budget to raise the wages of one employee.  The Board will come back to the department when they get updated numbers after the workshops to determine where the $5480 will need to come from to offset the addition. Facilities Manager Eric Jacquez praised his team for being effective with a good mix of skills that greatly benefit the county.  Eric brought up an option for the BOCC to consider, in that his department could potentially take over the White River Round-Up program in order to save money and potentially streamline the program and offer some additional efficiency overall.  The BOCC indicated they would consider his proposal. Commissioner Rector commented that the ultimate goal is to continue to offer the seniors good quality products at a reasonable price, and is okay with looking into all options.  

Jacquez offered other ideas to the board for keeping his employees from having to take the proposed furlough day, including only asking the higher paid employees to do so, and potential job sharing with other entities within the county such as the towns or school district.  Moyer stated it may open a ‘can of worms’ and Rector stated that ‘programs like this may be something we have to consider down the road’.  Ultimately the BOCC said they would think about and consider the suggestions.


Conservation District(s)

The BOCC discussed current Conservation District projects with the CD representatives such as their involvement in water related issues including the Integrated Water Management Initiative, the algae study, brush management, etc.  The Conservation District requested $75,000 for 2021, down from the $100,000 they received in 2020.   The Board indicated they’d have to see where they end up with the changes from the budget workshops but will let them know as soon as possible after they receive updated budget numbers after the wrap-up next week.  


Monday November 2 starting at 8:30 am


CSU EXTENSION


The CSU Extension Office was able to meet the 5%.  Linda Masters, CSU Extension Director asked for a raise and job title change for one employee.  The funds for the increase would come from another place within the current CSU budget to make up for the difference, still meeting the 5% decrease overall.  The Commissioners said they’ll have to come back to it but didnt see a problem with it.


RBC FAIR BOARD


The Fair Board was able to meet the 5% decrease.  Changes in how the Fair Board is now managing their accounting was explained, mainly indicating that the Finance and Budget Department is overseeing the funds and expenditures.  


PUBLIC HEALTH


The discussion with the Public Health Director Alice Harvey was a little bit different than others.   The budget changed so much due to COVID, mainly COVID funding but also some COVID expenses.  Programs and projects that were budgeted for 2020 took a place on the backburner in order for the staff to manage the pandemic.  The BOCC agreed to leave the current budget in place to give the Department another year to implement these programs and the new structure brought forth by Harvey in the 2020 budget.


FLEET


Fleet was unable to meet the 5% cut, but will be working over the next several years to decrease the fleet pool (county vehicles).  There was discussion regarding the system in which county employees use to reserve vehicles and if that tracking was more detailed/accurate, the Fleet Manager would get a better idea of how to narrow the pool vehicles over time.


WRAP-UP

-The Board gave go-ahead to Facilities Manager on Radino HVAC system replacement for 2020 and to use COVID funds if at all possible by the cut-off date of December 31, 2020.


-The Board changed direction a bit and gave direction to combine Emergency Management and Natural Resources.  This was what was originally discussed as an option but was hindered by the guidelines of a $50,000 yearly FEMA grant received by the EM Department.  The Board directed staff to plan to forgo at least a portion of that grant money in order to create a position/duties that are most beneficial to the county.  

-White River Round-Up (Senior Nutrition Program) discussions continued.  The Board is dedicated to continuing the program, but with the changes at DHS likely, there will need to be more time dedicated to the efficiency and administration of the various grants and funding for the program. The Board directed Janae Stanworth and Laura Smith to combine Public Relations/Economic Development duties and White River Round-Up administration into one full-time position. Previous discussions had been to combine Natural Resources and Public Relations/Economic Development but when the direction changed to combine Emergency Management and Natural Resources, the Board felt it opened up time for the previously named “Public Affairs” department to take on the administration duties of WRR. 

It was also discussed that rather than create a newly titled Public Affairs department out of combined departments, it may make more sense and will save additional money to list it as a position under the BOCC department.  It’s unknown at this time what that position will be called and what overall savings of the combinations will be.

-The BOCC current Administrative Assistant will work 14 hours for HR, 11 hours to help the Finance Department with bi-weekly payroll, and BOCC 15.

-Rather than the before proposed furlough day for all employees, the Board directed the HR Director to change benefits to the B2000 plan which will be a cost savings of approximately $300,000.

-The Clerk & Recorder’s office was allocated $30,000 less than in the proposed budget, which does not meet the 5% requested decrease but brought the decrease to a total of approximately 2%.  The Board discussed with current Clerk & Recorder Boots Campbell the increase in staff numbers over the years.  Campbell indicated that the increase in staff occurred before she was elected and she wasn’t sure exactly why those changes were made before she was in office. The Board does not have the authority to direct elected officials on how they spend their allocated funds, they can only decide the amount to be allocated.

-All personnel pay increase requests (there were 4 total) were ultimately directed against except one for the CSU extension office as that job title will be changing as well to include additional duties. 

-Stanworth was given the go-ahead to continue planning for the switch to bi-weekly payroll in order to clean up administrative difficulties that are caused by the current monthly payroll.

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