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Las Animas County Commission approves 2016 budget

TRINIDAD — After a year of wrestling with numbers, elected officials for the county have arrived at a budget most can live with, but most are not happy with. Approved on a 2-1 vote, the county has a $6,013,337 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2016. Appropriations for the year for each departmental budget total about $36 million. Commissioner Mack Louden voted no on the budget approval, saying there were still cuts the county could have made. “We have roughly about $175 thousand to cut out of next year’s (2017) budget. We cut a $100 thousand this year … So we’ve got $75 thousand we’ve got to cut out of it next year even with the transfers.” The budget also calls for the elimination of one position each in the clerk and recorder’s office, and the county assessor’s office. Another area that will see reductions in staff is the road and bridge department, which stands to lose eight positions. Problems with the sheriff’s budgetary discipline over several years has resulted in that department overspending each year. The number of years affected was not known at press time. For 2015, the sheriff’s department

is expected to be between $107 thousand and $150 thousand over budget by December 31. For the first half of the month, the county transferred $12,227 from the commissioner’s fund to the sheriff’s department to cover overages up to December 15, 2015. From December 16 to the end of the year, the county has no more funds to tap in order to cover the overspending. The end result: according to Colorado Budget Law, the sheriff himself would be personally responsible for the overages his department has run up. “In the 2015 budget it says that the sheriff can spend this, the coroner can spend this, so we were very specific on everybody’s appropriation. So he (the sheriff) was used to going over it and the rest of the general fund was back filling it. This year because of the way we appropriated it he can’t do that. This year (2016) if he goes over it, then all he can do is ask for transfers from other elected officials’ budgets. And you can’t get a supplemental budget unless you have unanticipated revenues to justify a supplemental budget.” In other business the county appropriated the funds for its governmental offices as well as the approval of a request to the county treasurer to transfer funds for 2015, all on a 3-0 vote. Also approved with a 3-0 vote was the approval of the certification of the mill levies for all taxing entities within the county for 2016. The one district the county withheld funds from was the Stoneridge Metro District number two. Stoneridge is the district that made Cougar Canyon possible. They received no funds because the district failed to file a copy of a budget with DOLA, nor have they produced an audit for 2014, and they’ve failed to elect new officers to their board. The commission went into executive session at 11 am and adjourned after the session.

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