Leane says slush money will fund his proposal

When Mesa County Commissioner candidate John Leane released his economic proposal on June 28, he made no mention of how he planned to fund the project, which would cost more than $300,000.

Leane recently released a second proposal to cut $4.4 million from what he described as Mesa County’s “slush fund,” or the balance that is kept in the general fund budget at all times.

Leane, an independent, is running for the District 1 seat being vacated by Craig Meis, who is term-limited. Also running in District 1 are John Justman, Republican; and Jana Gerow, unaffiliated.

Leane said he would use the money to fund his economic proposal, which includes stimulating the tourism industry and rewarding local businesses.

Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said the projected end fund balance for 2012 is 24.7 percent of the budget, or $13.5 million. Mesa County’s minimum required budget balance is 10 percent of the budget.

Acquafresca said the purpose of the fund balance is an “insurance policy” for Mesa County.

Leane said the amount “so vastly exceeds what they have for their own written policy. I think it’s crazy. That’s taxpayers’ money ... and it’s sitting there earning minimal interest, not providing any service.”

Leane proposed an $8.8 million balance, a number he said is consistent with the recommendations of the Government Finance Officers Association.

Leane, who described the balance as a “rainy day fund,” said the GFOA recommendations will continue to be an accurate estimate for the fund balance.

“It’s been ‘raining’ for several years in Mesa County and we still have neither increased services or money returned to the taxpayers,” Leane said. “I just think it’s ridiculous to have that much balance over and above what I think is a prudent rainy day fund.”


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