Proposed 2020 budget available for review

Proposed 2020 budget available for review
Posted on 11/27/2019

The proposed 2020 La Plata County budget is available for public review, after being presented to the Board of County Commissioners on Oct. 8. There will be a public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 5 pm in the Board Room of the County Administration Building, 1101 E. 2nd Ave., Durango. 

La Plata County Proposed 2020 Budget

Proposed 2020 Budget presentation

Background and overview
The county's budget team employed a pragmatic approach to developing this budget with a focus on investing in efforts that further the county’s strategic goals and the program priorities set by the Board of County Commissioners. This budget represents the county’s new fiscal reality: one that reflects a diverse and growing economy recovered from the Great Recession, while also remaining committed to cost-containment and careful use of limited resources to invest in the community’s health, safety and welfare. The 2020 budget was developed from the diligence and commitment demonstrated by elected officials and staff in each La Plata County department, and we are proud of the result. The 2020 budget before you exemplifies the dedication that La Plata County government has to serve the citizens of our community while building public trust through sound fiscal stewardship.  

The spending plan is crafted to maximize service delivery within the constraints of the revenue streams available to fund the county’s operations. The 2020 proposed La Plata County budget is a balanced budget that anticipates a modest increase in revenues and deploys a pragmatic approach to estimating both revenues and expenditures in line with recent years’ actual revenue to expenditure experience. La Plata County follows the modified accrual basis of accounting to prepare its annual budget, as well as in its annual audited financial statements. The budget is prepared in accordance with all applicable Colorado revised statutes, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and La Plata County policies.

Revenue trends in 2019 show that La Plata County is in a good position heading into 2020. Sales tax collections have been ahead of projections in 2019, in line with positive revenue behavior in 2018. While property tax revenues have not increased on pace with sales tax, this revenue source remained steady in 2018 and has remained on course in 2019. As we head into 2020, La Plata County is in a healthy position to make modest investments in bolstering the critical services that keep the community healthy, safe and well – services that have been constrained in recent years as the county has braced for declining revenues.

The conservative budgeting approach deployed to position La Plata County to weather the fiscal challenges of recent years has positioned the county well to make strategic investments in the work force that provides the services our citizens depend upon. The 2020 budget proposes to restore approximately half of the 21 positions that have been held vacant in 2018 and 2019. The efficacy of the vacancy management strategy in containing costs has been consequential in constraining service levels. In 2020, we aim to begin closing that gap, with particular emphasis on restoring public safety and Department of Human Services positions. This chronicles the beginning of a phased, calculated effort to invest in the community while ensuring adequate fiscal footing to support the long-term restoration of critical service levels.

The 2020 La Plata County budget projects revenues of $75.9 million and budgets for $88.5 million in expenditures. The difference between budgeted revenues and expenditures is $12.6 million. The difference will come from the county’s fund balance to be used for one-time capital projects as well as budgeted contingency – dollars that are unlikely to be spent in full. The county’s total fund balance across its four major funds is projected at $72.7 million entering 2020 thanks to careful and conservative budgeting and use of resources since 2010. This fund balance is anticipated to be $64.2 million at the end of 2020, of which $40.6 million is unassigned.

Additionally, La Plata County has been successful in securing funding from state and federal sources to make critical infrastructure investments for the community’s benefit. In 2020, we expect to construct a permanent weather radar station in La Plata County, made possible by a state grant that will address a vulnerability owed to lack of adequate radar coverage in the region. This collaboration between La Plata County, the state of Colorado, and many local partners will improve the region’s emergency preparedness and response position. To complement this effort, La Plata County is leveraging state and federal dollars to remodel the former National Guard Armory Building to house the Sheriff’s Office administration and construct a building to house the volunteer La Plata County Search & Rescue Team. This project will complete in 2020.

These capital projects and the entire 2020 budget reflect the Board of County Commissioners’ goals and priorities for 2020, which include:

  • Developing a long-term strategy to ensure La Plata County’s fiscal sustainability
  • Build and sustain trust in the La Plata County community
  • Nourish a culture of innovation to sustain and improve operational efficiency
  • Promote and encourage economic development and diversity
  • Complete the land use code revision project

The core of each of these goals is La Plata County’s steadfast dedication to serving our citizens in the most efficient and effective way possible to ensure the community’s health, safety and welfare. The 2020 budget maps a path to achieving these goals through pragmatic stewardship of public funds.