Apr 6, 2011 5:41 PM by David Ortiviz
We've been reporting for months now the budget crisis facing state lawmakers, school districts and local communities. But there's at least one exception. Pueblo County is bucking the trend.
Last year Pueblo County faced a $9.5 million deficit and even required staff to take 12 furlough days, but this year, there was a reversal of fortune. "The county is sitting rather well," said John Cordova, Chairman of the Pueblo County Commissioners.
Commissioner Cordova says so far this year, the county has $2 million in surplus. "We instituted some changes," said Cordova.
"It was a strategy and definite approach we took," said Calvin Hamler, Pueblo County's Budget and Finance Director.
The county put an emphasis on frugal spending. All expenditures over $500 were closely monitored. "Why is that needed more than anything you need in your department and can it wait until next year," said Hamler.
Also, as a general policy when a worker left a department that position wasn't filled. "Those departments had to figure out how to restructure," said Hamler.
Using those strategies the county has increased its reserves by 11% and reduced its debt by more than 4%. "Increasing, improving the financial position of the county is key to delivering the services the taxpayers expect," said Hamler.
"I don't think we're out of the woods as far as the economy goes," said Cordova. Declining property values could have a big impact on next year's tax revenues, but for now commissioners say the balanced budget shouldn't affect county services.
El Paso County says its budget is balanced, but the county projects it will see up to a 15% drop in property tax collections next year.