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BoCC to apportion 1A funds

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners will decide how to apportion Ballot Issue 1A dollars for 2010 during their regular meeting Sept. 15.

According to Archuleta County Finance Director Don Warn, there is roughly $1.5 million open for discussion and allocation, with the dollars slated for division into four spending categories: roads; information, technology and training; parks and recreation; and county facilities.

Warn said the $1.5 million figure is a preliminary number, and the number will be finalized following the property value protest hearings scheduled to begin Sept. 28.

According to county financial documents, there was $1.19 million in 1A revenue for 2009, of which the commissioners apportioned 60 percent for road maintenance, 10 percent for technology and training, 15 percent for parks and recreation, and 15 percent for county facilities.

In 2008, the commissioners put 40 percent of 1A funds toward roads, 20 percent toward technology and training, 20 percent toward parks and recreation and 20 percent for facilities.

According to Archuleta County Administrator Greg Schulte, the spending categories will remain the same for 2010, although the commissioners must decide the percentage allocation for each.

The current board of county commissioners and county staff said continuing to allocate percentages of the 1A kitty to said spending categories honors the spirit of the previous board’s September 2006 Ballot Issue 1A “letter of commitment.”

Commissioners John Egan, Robin Schiro and Ronnie Zaday drafted and signed the letter — which separated 1A funds into the aforementioned spending categories with percentage pledges — in order to garner voter support for the ballot measure.

The measure’s language, as drafted for the ballot, proposed freezing the county mill levy at the 2006 level of 18.233 mills for the next five years. However, while that part of the ballot language was clear, language governing how the dollars might be spent was not. In short, the ballot language gave the commissioners the latitude to spend the money however they saw fit, thus the letter of commitment emerged to bolster voter confidence.

In the end the effort succeeded and voters approved the measure — hence the reapportionment of percentages each year during the budget cycle.

According to the 2006 letter of commitment, Archuleta County also pledges — during the budget process — to publish a financial statement of extra property tax revenues made possible by the ballot measure, a statement of project status for 1A funded projects and a project list for the following year.

Although the commissioners have not released a 1A project list for 2010 — presumably because the budget process has just begun — the following lists, by spending category, dollars spent as of July 31, 2009, projects begun and projects completed.

The 2009 1A progress report as of July 31, 2009, shows:

• Unspent 2008 1A funds — $1,098,816.

• 2009 1A funds — $1,194,658.

• Total 1A funds available for 2009 (2008 carry over plus 2009 dollars) — $2,293,474.

Roads — 60 percent:

• Carry-over from 2008 — $462,703.

• 2009 dollars apportioned — $716,795.

• Total available for 2009 — $1,179,498.

• Dollars spent — $467,348.

• Projects accomplished : Ballot Issue 1A dollars for roads, per the letter of commitment, must be used for road maintenance. That said, as of July 31, 2009, Archuleta County spent roughly $101,000 on magnesium chloride for dust control and surface stabilization and about $365,000 for re-graveling operations on 10.5 miles of county roads.

Technology and training — 10 percent:

• Carry-over from 2008 — $101,653.

• 2009 dollars apportioned — $119,466.

• Total available for 2009 — $221,119.

• Dollars spent — $170,386.

• Projects accomplished: In the technology and training category, Archuleta County staff completed an upgrade to the Sleuth software system used in the sheriff’s office, obtained or updated product licensing for software used on various county systems and put $25,955 toward a burgeoning computer replacement and network upgrading program.

Most importantly however, the county spent $81,447 in 2009 to complete the integrated software project. The project upgraded 20-year-old software used in the assessor’s and treasurer’s offices, with a system that allows the two offices and the finance department to conduct office specific functions, exchange information and produce reports in a manner one might expect of government offices doing business in the 21st century.

Parks and recreation — 15 percent:

• Carry-over from 2008 — $305,440.

• 2009 dollars apportioned: — $179,199.

• Total available for 2009 — $484,639.

• Dollars spent — $71.

• Projects accomplished: The Archuleta Board of County Commissioners has committed $50,000 to the skate park project, $47,000 to the “Springs to Lakes” trail, $46,000 to baseball field improvements at the high school and allocated $60,000 to the small grant program. The small grant programs allows local clubs or groups to seek county funding to launch “home grown” parks and recreation projects. By contrast, other 1A parks and recreation funding requests are outgrowths of projects identified as priorities in the parks and recreation master plan.

According to county staff, phase one of the baseball field fencing improvement is complete. Launching of the skate park project however, has been mired in bureaucratic snafus and indecision — town council has changed the location three times since January and missed a key grant deadline in March.

In regard to the town to lakes trail, preliminary planning and easement acquisition has commenced, although actual construction has not yet begun.

In short, $71 of 1A the parks and recreation kitty has been spent as of July 31, 2009.

Facilities — 15 percent:

• Carry-over from 2008 — $229,019.

• 2009 dollars apportioned — $179,199.

• Total available for 2009 — $408,218.

• Dollars spent — $67,117.

• Projects accomplished: The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners loosened the constraints of the facilities spending category for 2009. By contrast, facilities spending for 2008 was to go toward the creation of a county campus-justice center, however economic realties pushed that project off the front burner and eventually off the stove entirely. That said, in 2009, the commissioners allowed for 1A facilities expenditures to go toward current courthouse and other county facilities improvements in general. To that end, the commissioners approved $51,265 to purchase emergency generators for use at the emergency operations center and the road and bridge office. In addition, about $7,000 was spent for a concrete handicapped parking slab at the Extension Office and for installation of a natural gas line which replaced the propane feed to the Extension Office.

The sheriff’s department also received about $9,500 for improvements including upgrades to the evidence room, the intercom system inside the jail and a security camera for use in the investigations department.

james@pagosasun.com