by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- The Huerfano County Commissioners approved their budget for 2009 at their Wednesday meeting. In the management letter and a letter to employees, the Commissioners announced that there would be no salary increases for the coming year and that employees will have to pay $25 per month toward the cost of health insurance. Huerfano County was the only one in the state that provided 100% of the health insurance for employees and their families at a cost of over 1 million dollars. To help offset the increased health care costs, the Commissioners felt it necessary to implement the $25 employee contribution.
In order to hold the line on expenses, the Commissioners will also adopt a hiring freeze for the coming year except for the dispatch center and the waste transfer station, both of which they have added this year. They will also adopt an attrition stance in which any employee leaving the county will not be replaced unless absolutely necessary.
With a drop of nearly $700,000 in property tax revenues, Administrator, John Galusha said the main reason the county is able to hold the line on this coming year is because of the stimulus package announced by president-elect, Barack Obama to assist cities and counties after he takes office.
Commissioners plan to attend a meeting on Monday in Trinidad with U.S. senator, Ken Salazar, who will be discussing more information on the stimulus package and monies that may be available for projects that are in the works or planning stages. The City of Walsenburg and the County both have numerous projects in the works or planning stages that could qualify. The meeting will take place at 1:30 at Trinidad State Junior College.