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Commissioners Adopt 2015 County Budget

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners took the final necessary actions at a special meeting on December 18th to adopt a 2015 county budget and appropriate the necessary funds for that budget.  As outlined in the budget message presented at the budget hearing in November, County Finance and Budget Officer Sunny Bryant says the most significant issue for the county next year is another decline in property tax revenue.

In the certification of property tax mill levies which was also approved by the Commissioners on December 18th, it shows Fremont County’s assessed valuation dropped in 2014 by $15,221,000 to a total value of $417,632,839, representing a 3.9% decrease.  That means the county expects to collect $173,000 less in property taxes in 2015.   That property tax decrease will hopefully be offset by an anticipated increase in sales and use tax revenue.

Bryant is estimating 2015 sales tax revenues for the General Fund at $4.81 million, or a two percent increase over the 2014 budgeted amount.   That is $187,000 more in sales tax revenue than was budgeted for 2014.   Actual sales tax revenues for calendar year 2014 are projected to be just over $5 million but Bryant has chosen to be conservative again with her estimates for a two percent growth rate.

The new 1% sales tax earmarked for the Sheriff’s Department in 2014 was budgeted to collect $2.8 million but will likely finish closer to $3.27 million in collections.   Bryant again is budgeting conservatively at a two percent increase which would produce $2.853 million for the Sheriff.

Bryant had a bit of good news to share at the budget adoption.   She said that compared to the numbers originally projected at November’s budget hearing, she now estimates the county’s General Fund reserves to close out 2014 at $1,665,000.   That’s $107,000 more than was estimated at the budget hearing.   Fremont County started out the 2014 budget year with $1.316 million in General Fund reserves so that means reserves will close out the year more than $300,000 ahead from when the year started.

In certifying mill levies for every unit of local government in Fremont County that relies on property tax revenues, Bryant said every unit of government certified their mill levies to the county by the December 15th deadline.

The unit of government showing the biggest change from one year ago is the Cañon City Area Fire Protection District.    The voter approval of four mills in property taxes for the fire department means the Cañon City Fire District will now levy a total of 17.729 mills.   The final tally estimates the fire district will collect $3,502,000 in property tax revenue in 2015.    That is $898,000 more than the district collected in 2014.