Foreclosure and unemployment rates are up and sales tax revenues are down. Despite all that Mesa County Commissioners say we are prepared to weather this economic storm.
County Commissioner Craig Meis says, "It is certainly time we are gonna put on our boots and buck up and go to work." In the state of the county address today county commissioners talked about the slowing economy. Touching on rising unemployment claims as well as an increase in applications for food assistance.County Commissioner Janet Rowland says, "As you see that food stamp number creep up you know that the economy is having some difficulty."
The decrease in building permits also points to upcoming bad weather says Meis, "Calm seas does not a sailor make, well needless to say you're going to find out who the sailors are in our community as a result of some stormy seas that are coming our way."
Commissioners say they have been preparing for this downturn for several years. Commissioner Steve Acquafresca says, "While our organization is doing relatively well at this point we are taking steps to make sure it stays that way."
This year the county is on a hiring freeze and is also decreasing spending by three percent. The 2009 budget also calls for no tax increases, but one thing the county says they will not skimp on is public safety.
Acquafresca says, "Mesa County has healthy fund balances to continue providing the services our residents need and expect." In January the Mesa County Jail was one inmate over their maximum capacity with 60 of those inmates pre–trial felons. Commissioner
Rowland says, "Which means we are keeping the right people in jail to protect our citizens, were getting the rest of them out into work release programs."
The county also looks to grab federal stimulus money for local construction including adding lanes to I–70 B, between 24 and 25 Roads and updating the Palisade Interchange.
The county says they will also pay off all sales tax bonds and be debt free by 2011.