Our Future Summit hosts July 15 round table on Summit County’s fiscal options
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Declining property values could take a $4.6 million bite from county tax revenues next year, forcing elected officials and staff to consider program and staff cuts.
A July 15 forum at the Summit County Community & Senior Center set for July 15 (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) is aimed stimulating conservation about which local program could be most at risk, given decreased federal and state aid and the projected decline in local tax revenues.
“Summit County is facing quite a dilemma … because we rely on property values,” county manager Gary Martinez said during a county commissioner work session last month. “It’s a worse problem than we faced last year and the year before … even if the economy improves, we have to prepare for a worse revenue picture. We have some ideas what to do in some areas, but it’s going to require some pain in county government,” Martinez said. “We know we have a cliff we’re going to hit.”
County commissioner Thomas Davidson, county manager Gary Martinez, treasurer Bill Wallace and Board of Education treasurer Brad Piehl will join other decision makers in identifying the hard choices they face and the strategies they are considering to address the dollar budget shortfall.
The gloomy budget outlook is based on the current round of property valuations that ended June 30. Based on preliminary sales data, County assessor Beverly Breakstone estimated that property values are down about 20 to 22 percent. Those are the values that will used to calculate the 2012 property tax bills.
That translates into a $2.2 million hit to the general fund and a $1 million hit to the capital fund. Revenues from Measure 1A, approved by voters in 2008 in large part fund the open space program, could drop by $1.25 million. Early childhood programs, also funded by property tax revenues, could take a $200,000 hit.
Property taxes make up one-third of the county’s tax revenues, with rest coming from sales taxes and from various fees and permits. The tax base is mainly at Keystone and Copper Mountain, with rest spread around the other unincorporated county lands.
Colorado’s TABOR Amendment compounds the county’s future budget challenges with a ratcheting-down effect that will cap future revenue growth at a lower level.
The forum is being organized by Our Future Summit, a public policy education institution dedicated to a better Summit County by providing opportunities each month for informed discussion on topics that address community quality of life.
Questions about the event can be directed to Howard Hallman at (719) 491-1807 or Sandy Briggs at (970) 389-0987.