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Commissioners to fund two new departments

by Larry Patrick

WALSENBURG-The Huerfano County Commissioners will administer two new departments in 2009. One will be the dispatch system which the City of Walsenburg has handled for many years. The County will take over the operations to provide dispatch for La Veta, Walsenburg, Gardner and rural areas of the Huerfano County. The actual takeover of the dispatch services will likely not occur until spring. If that is the case, the City of Walsenburg will continue the current operation and likely will institute a per call cost to entities in the County using the services. The County believes they can offer the dispatch services for less money because they do not pay overtime, only comp time for their employees. The City of Walsenburg will save money by being able to cut back on staff, because dispatchers will work for the county and won’t have the overtime salaries to pay out.

   The waste transfer station is the other department that will begin operations around March 1st. This has been another joint venture with Walsenburg and La Veta. The cost to operate the dispatch center is budgeted at $255,000 and the waste transfer station will have a budget of $132,500.

   The Commissioners are expecting revenues to increase for the County by about 1.5 million dollars over 2008. But County Administrator, John Galusha, warned that revenues cannot keep up with growth rates in the future without an influx of growth revenues. The County benefited with the economic stimulus package passed by Congress this year for operations for 2009. Under the current budget numbers, Commissioners say they won’t have to cut services or staff for 2009. The total budget for 2009 is slated to be $10,609,074, up 1.1 million for 2008.The vote on the County budget is expected to occur at the December 10th meeting.

   The assessed value of the County dropped by nearly $675,000 below the 2007 valuation resulting in a drop in property tax revenue of over $15,000. The County has two capital projects for next year, the update of the comprehensive plan and land use guide.

   A paved trail from the Walsenburg city limits to Lathrop State Park will be completed by early summer. Eighty percent of the funding for that project came from highway enhancement funds through CDOT.