Third-quarter report shows declining county revenues


By Randi Pierce

Staff Writer

Archuleta County continues to reign in its spending in the face of decreasing revenues, according to the Third Quarter Financial Report.

The report was presented by Finance Director Diane Sorensen at the Oct. 16 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, detailing the county’s revenues and expenditures from January to December, and how those amounts compare to 2011.

Through the first nine months of the year, revenues and expenditures are expected to sit at 75 percent of the 2012 budgeted amount.

The following information is taken from that report.

General Fund

Revenues in the General Fund rang in at 81 percent of budget through the first three quarters, but have decreased 6 percent ($564,778) from 2011 due to several factors.

The drop, according to Sorensen’s report, stems primarily from a decrease of $798,892 (14.5 percent) in property tax revenues due to decreased assessed valuations.

Treasurer’s fees also contributed to a decrease in the amount of $114,409. Those fees, however, directly relate to revenues received by the county and the decrease was expected in light of the lesser valuations.

Tempering that drop in revenue is an increase in revenues over 2011 of $185,000, resulting from the county’s implementation of the Cost Allocation Plan (found within administration fees), which allows the county to claim indirect costs from things such as grants and from other county funds.

Also tempering the overall decrease in revenues was an unanticipated increase in the Payment in Lieu of Taxes paid to the county. The county received $158,900 more than expected in PILT funding.

The report states the 2012 PILT distributions were the largest amount ever allocated under the program, but noted that the funding stream may soon dry up. This year, according to the report, is the final year for PILT to be funded under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Returning to PILT funding levels prior to the 2008 act would mean a decrease of $300,000 to the county’s General Fund, the report indicates.

Revenues from other taxes are at 115 percent of the budgeted amount due to unanticipated increases in delinquent taxes and severance tax, with revenues equating to $109,349 thus far in 2012.

Specific ownership tax, too, is above budgeted levels at 106 percent, or $245,226. Sorensen’s report indicates that the increase is likely due either to increased car registrations or the value of the vehicles being registered, or a combination thereof.

Sales tax, which is reported two months in arrears, sits at 60 percent — an increase of .7 percent or $6,500 over the same time period in 2011.

Expenditures within the General Fund in 2011 have also decreased compared to 2011, to the tune of $812,449, and sit at 55.3 percent of the budgeted amount.

According to the report, only two budget items have exceeded the expected 75 percent — debt service (at 99.7 percent due to an annual payment that was made in July) and “transfer out” (a onetime transfer of $58,000 was made to Solid Waste to cover a cash shortage, but has since been paid back and recorded in the “transfers in” line item in revenues).

The largest decrease when compared with 2011 comes in salaries ($161,569) and benefits (115,945) due to the elimination of seven full-time equivalents in the 2012 budget.

Many of the other decreases compared to 2011 expenditures result from projects completed and funds expended in 2011 that were not repeated in 2012.

The second largest decrease in spending within the General Fund, at about $129,000, came in the IT realm, due to projects that were completed in 2011, including an IT assessment and work on the county’s network.

A decrease of a similar amount (about $127,900) resulted from the county’s health insurance change, which required the setup and elimination of the Health Benefit Holding Account to facilitate the change.

A $96,336 change within 1A Parks and Recreation spending came from design work done for the Town-to-Lakes Trail in 2011.

The largest increase in expenses within the General Fund thus far has been in capital outlay (with $103,187 more spent in 2012 than in 2011), mostly due to repairs and renovations to the county’s Emergency Operations Center.

Another expense the report notes comes from a 2009 lease purchase agreement for computers that required a buyout of the computers in 2012.

Road and Bridge Fund

Within the Road and Bridge Fund, revenues are at 58 percent of the budgeted amount. The fund receives only two sources of revenue — intergovernmental revenues and sales tax revenue.

As noted in the report, intergovernmental revenues on large projects such as the Harebell and Rio Blanco Bridge are received on a reimbursement basis, with revenues expected to increase as the projects are completed.

Sales tax revenue is at 60 percent of budget for the fund, due to its being reported two months in arrears.

Total revenues within the fund have decreased by $646,667 (18 percent) from 2011 due to the fact that no 1A funding was collected in the measure’s final year (2011 taxes, payable in 2012) due to the decreased valuations.

Expenditures, however, are well within the expected amount at 55 percent, though they have increased a net of about $15,000 over 2011.

Despite being within budgeted amounts at 53.8 percent, interfund costs are the largest increase in spending, by about $278,000, due to repair and maintenance costs for road and bridge machinery.

The second largest expenditure increase in the fund comes in capital outlay, $233,000 in purchases, which include a T80 Class 8 Truck Cab and Chassis, and a motor grader. With the purchases, capital outlay rings in at 58 percent of budget heading into the fourth quarter.

Decreases in expenditures, when compared with 2011, come from 2011 projects, such as the asphalt preservation project and 5-year Road Plan.

Payments to the Town of Pagosa Springs also decreased by $73,178, due to the decreased assessed valuations. Per statute, the county owes the town 50 percent of revenues produced by the town’s assessed valuations.

Solid Waste Fund

According to the report, the Solid Waste Fund continues to improve, with an increase of $60,000 over 2011 revenues through the first three quarters.

Revenues within the fund are at 83 percent of the budgeted amount.

In a later interview, Sorensen noted that cash transferred from the General Fund, and repaid, was to cover a cash shortage and is distinctly different than the fund’s revenues.

According to the report, the increase from 2011 levels and being above the amount budgeted for the time period are, “encouraging signs” for the fund.

The fund’s expenditures have also increased.

Expenses in the fund are at 64.5 percent of the budget and have increased $54,000 over 2011, with the majority of the increase credited to repairs and an engine rebuild on a compactor at the landfill.

Permits and fees have also increased — a direct result of greater revenues.

Wages have increased by $8,600 over 2011, but sit at 74.8 percent of budget.

To help the fund, in 2011, the solid waste fund and fleet fund split one full-time equivalent, with that person serving each fund half of the time.

In 2012, the full position was returned to the Solid Waste Fund.