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The La Paz County Board of Supervisors has tentatively approved the county’s budget for fiscal year 2020-21. The budget presented at their July 20 meeting comes to a total of $38,334,832.

A point made about the budget by Finance Director Terry Krukemyer is that, while property tax revenue is projected to increase, the county’s property tax rate is being lowered for this fiscal year.

The budget includes $18.9 million in the general fund, $16.7 million in special revenue funds, and $2.7 million in enterprise funds. Krukemyer said that, while money can still be moved around within these funds prior to the adoption of the budget, by state law, these total amounts cannot increase.

Krukemyer said the general fund did not include any pay increases for individuals, though some employees who are paid for through grants might see pay increases. The county has adopted at $14.10 per hour minimum wage for employees and a 2 percent cost-of-living increase.

Krukemyer said every 1 percent pay increases adds $75,000 from the general fund.

Greg Bachmann of the La Paz County Health Department said they are looking at grants for more employees in the department. He said this is necessary to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. He said these grants would be considered special funds and would not take anything away from the general fund.

A major source of revenue for the county’s general fund is the property tax. Revenues from the tax in FY 2019-20 were $5.5 million. For FY 2020-21, they’re projected at $5.6 million. However, due to many factors, the county’s primary property tax rate is being lowered from $2.589 of $100,000 of net assessed value to $2.5622 of $100,000 of net assessed value.

The county’s excise sales tax is another major source of revenue for the county’s general fund. Due mostly to the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic, the revenues were less than projected for FY 2019-20. The projection was $1.45 million, but the actual revenue was $1.34 million. For the FY 2020-21, they’ve been projected at $1.3 million.

Other major sources of revenue for the general fund are Federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes at $2.2 million and state shared sales tax revenue at $1.5 million.

The largest source of special funds are Highway User Revenue Funds from the state’s fuel tax. These can only be used for transportation needs. The actual revenue in FY 2019-20 was lower than projected, from $5.4 million projected to $5.1 million actual. For FY 2020-21, they’re projected at $4.49 million.

The largest budget from the general fund belongs to the Sheriff’s Office, which is set at almost $4.4 million. This is less than the $4.438 million in actual expenditures for FY 2019-20.

The total compensation to county employees from the general fund is $12 million. This includes $7.88 million in salaries, $2.72 million in retirement costs, $1.2 million in health care costs, and $189,000 in other benefits.

Employee compensation from special funds comes to $2.73 million. This includes $1.86 million in salaries, $569,147 in retirement costs, $266,702 for health care costs and $35,445 for other benefits.

The Supervisors will meet Monday, Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. to hear citizen comments on the budget and to formally adopt the budget. They will also adopt the county’s tax levy at that meeting.

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