Mesa County Cuts $4 Million from Budget

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

As Mesa County continues to combat the economic slowdown, officials announced Thursday they've slashed $4 million from the 2009 budget -- but say they've made it so county residents won't be able to tell.

As Grand Valley families tighten their budgets, they just don't shell out cash like they used to. And when people don't spend money, the county government doesn't collect the sales tax dollars it relies on.

"We're projecting our 2009 revenues are going to be five point five million dollars less than we originally anticipated," said Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock.

County officials say sales tax revenues have dropped seven percent from 2008, and as a result, they've had to make roughly $4 million in cuts to the budget. But Peacock says that doesn't necessarily spell doom and gloom.

"The 2009 budget was adopted with the theme of the economy is slowing, but still growing," said Peacock.

Peacock says during the boom the county experienced the last few years, they built up a lot of reserves just in case things turned ugly -- and says the county has enough to get through the rest of the year.

"What we're doing now is taking prudent steps to ensure we have enough reserves, should the slowdown go beyond 2009," said Peacock.

And they're hopeful with the steps they've taken, county residents won't even notice they've had to make cutbacks.

"We want to tighten our belts in areas where the citizens are least likely to feel it in the short run," said Peacock.

Officials say for now, they won't replace several open positions, have frozen employee pay raises, have cut back on travel and supplies, and are shifting people and resources to the departments that need them the most.

"Our human services department has seen a great increase in demand," said Peacock.

While they don't expect things to drastically improve this year, officials say during these tough times, they remain committed to serving the people of Mesa County.

"We're just trying to focus on maintaining services to citizens, funding those higher priority areas and tightening our belts where it makes sense," said Peacock.

County officials say they expect things to improve after the second quarter of 2009, but will continue to watch revenues to see if more cuts need to be made.

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