County braces for $7.1 million hit by Prop. 101
Mesa County’s pared-down 2011 budget could be stripped of another $7.1 million in revenue if voters approve Proposition 101 in November, according to an analysis presented to county commissioners Monday.
County department heads, who already have submitted spending plans that eliminate jobs, shutter offices and reduce work hours to meet a 10.5 percent budget reduction, have been asked to prioritize their functions and calculate what those functions cost in anticipation of additional cuts should Proposition 101 pass, said county Finance Director Marcia Arnhold. Departments must submit those plans by Friday.
Proposition 101 is one of three ballot initiatives that would limit government debt and slash taxes and fees. County officials said Monday they don’t anticipate any immediate financial impact to the county’s bottom line if Amendments 60 and 61 pass, but Proposition 101 could take a combined $7.1 million chunk out of the general, capital, and road and bridge funds next year, and a total of $10.9 million by 2014.
The $7.1 million represents nearly 6 percent of the county’s proposed $127 million budget next year.
Passage of the initiative is projected to leave the capital, and road and bridge funds’ fund balances in a deficit next year, which is against state law.
County commissioners are committed to maintaining a 20 percent fund balance, in part because assessed property values are expected to drop in 2012. That means county departments will be expected to make up for any revenue loss caused by Proposition 101.
Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said he is opposed to the three ballot measures and asked whether the board should take a stance, saying a number of residents have approached him about it.
But Commissioner Janet Rowland said she doesn’t think the public cares what elected officials think. She said she believes the three ballot measures are a direct response to federal government spending and the increase in vehicle-registration fees and the mill-levy freeze endorsed by Gov. Bill Ritter and approved by the state Legislature.
“(The initiatives) could cripple our state government, which would be unfortunate, but I think the responsibility for that result lies with the governor and our Legislature,” Rowland said.
Meis said the three measures go too far in attempting to reduce government spending but said nobody should be surprised by them.
“Some of this has been self-inflicted,” he said.
The Mesa County Commission has declined to join several other local boards, including the Grand Junction and Fruita city councils, the Palisade Town Board and the School District 51 Board of Education, in formally opposing the initiatives.