Commission approves $1.8 million budget reduction

Uinta County Commissioners Eric South and Craig Welling review the county’s 2020-21 fiscal year budget during last Tuesday’s commission meeting. (HERALD PHOTO/Sheila McGuire)

EVANSTON — The Uinta County Commissioners formally passed the 2020-2021 budget resolution during the regular meeting on Tuesday, June 21. The budget contains some significant changes from the 2019-20 budget, most notably a decrease of slightly less than $1.8 million in budgeted general fund expenditures and a decrease of about $350,000 in budgeted general fund revenues. Total general fund expenditures are budgeted at $15,041,435 and total general fund revenues are budgeted at $11,811,348. The budgeted amount in general fund reserve accounts is approximately $14.2 million, down from approximately $15.5 million in 2019-20.

Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson said the general fund reserves have been helping the county greatly in recent years.

“Our cash carryover has been saving us from year to year because, as you can see and hear, our expenditures are quite a bit more than our revenues,” she said. “That’s a gap we hope to continue to close, whether that’s with additional revenue that we hope for in the future or by trying to continue to reduce expenses. However, one of the things that made this budget particularly tough and tight is that our cash carryover is about $1 million less than what it was the year before, so that made things pretty tight.”

Hutchinson said, however, that the situation was not as problematic as they had initially anticipated.

“In the beginning of our budgeting process,” she said, “we thought it was going to be even another million lower. When the commissioners asked the department heads and the elected officials to minimize their spending as much as possible, people really listened and that helped our cash carryover by about $1 million, which is really helping us to get through this next year that we know is going to be tight, leading us to another year that we believe the next year will be just as tight if not tighter.”

Notable expenditure decreases of tens of thousands of dollars can be found in the amounts budgeted for airports, the county attorney’s office, the clerk of court, the county clerk, the county fair, the extension office, human services, information technology, the county jail, maintenance, the road and bridge department, the sheriff’s office and more.

Smaller expenditure increases are budgeted for capital construction, communications, elections, economic development, the Evanston landfill, health services, mosquito control and planning. The largest budgeted difference is a nearly 40% decrease in general expenditures from approximately $2 million to approximately $1.2 million.

Budgeted revenues include a significant decrease in anticipated property tax revenues from $4,289,303 in 2019-20 to $3,813.318 in 2020-21. Sales tax and user fees are expected to increase slightly, as are intergovernmental revenues. Significant changes in reserves include a decrease in cash available from $4,826.395 last year to $3,636.639 for the new year. Emergency reserves are budgeted at a steady $4.5 million. Other reserve accounts include a budgeted $2.2 million in the capital improvement fund, $2.5 million for infrastructure repair/development, $205,000 in bridge replacement reserves and $250,000 in complex reserves.

Grant revenues and expenditures are both budgeted at approximately $2.7 million. In the last fiscal year, grant revenues were at approximately $3.9 million and expenditures at approximately $3.2 million.

In special funds, the landfill fund remains at approximately $950,000 in both expenditures and revenues and the E911 fund has budgeted amounts of approximately $383,000 in expenditures and $243,000 in revenues. Hutchinson said some of the expenditures are related to the 911 system upgrade that was not completed in the last fiscal year. The county road fund has approximately $815,000 in expenditures and approximately $450,000 in revenues budgeted. Special fund reserve accounts include approximately $800,000 in grant reserves (which have restrictions and can only be spent on the specific grant projects), $1.4 million in county road fund reserves, $340,000 in E911 reserves and $750,000 in landfill fund reserves.

The detailed budget will be available to the public on the Uinta County website.

Commissioners also passed the mill levy resolution for 2020-21, designating that the county will be utilizing 12 mills, one of which is designated for the Uinta County Library. Hutchinson said the valuation is down significantly, which had a negative impact on the budget.

Other business during the meeting included the approval of a contract with the Wyoming Attorney General’s office for a maximum amount of $66,507 for victim witness services, which requires a county match of $11,300. Commissioners also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Wyoming Department of Health for $411,744 of CARES Act funding to be used for wages and overtime to support contact tracing and other response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the continued appointment of Dr. Michael Adams as the Uinta County Public Health Officer.

A grant offer with the Federal Aviation Administration for $828,248 to provide funding for airport development and noise program implementation over the next four years was also approved.

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