County cutting budget by $4 million

Sinking revenue and a sluggish economy will trigger approximately $4 million in spending cuts for Mesa County, including nearly $1.4 million set aside for travel, consulting and related expenses.

The cuts, announced Thursday in a news release distributed by county officials, come in the wake of a sharp year-to-year decline in sales tax dollars.

“This should help us avoid cuts to our most important areas: service levels for our citizens and capital construction,” Commissioner Craig Meis said.

Included in the announced $4 million round of belt-tightening:

•  $1,399,855 in travel, office supplies, training, consulting and printing. County spokeswoman Nichole Hall said the figure includes $500,000 in contingency dollars set aside for various emergencies.

•  $681,694 by cutting merit-based pay increases for good job performance.

•  $570,000 by delaying equipment purchases, including the replacement of computers.

•  $447,050 by not replacing vacant positions.

•  $160,622 with the transfer of some employees to departments seeing increased service demand.

Mesa County’s 2009 budget already guts employee pay raises based on regional salary comparison, Hall said. Officials have said the county’s sales tax revenue was down 17.2 percent in March, compared to March 2008.

County leaders are “searching for additional revenue sources through the federal stimulus package and other types of grants,” according to the news release.

The release was distributed one day after Commissioners Meis and Janet Rowland addressed a crowd of thousands at Lincoln Park, who protested recent spending under President Barack Obama, among other issues.

“The money’s going to go somewhere,” Rowland said, when asked Thursday about the county’s pursuit of federal stimulus dollars. “It’s our money, and we’ll continue to fight to get it.”


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