The La Paz County Board of Supervisors approved a tentative budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, but they acknowledged there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. At a special session July 1, Finance Director Terry Krukemyer said the overall budget features a positive balance of $900,000. However, the general fund still comes up $800,000 short of being balanced.
The shortfall in the general fund is offset by revenue from the golf course, the parks, and other special revenue sources.
The Supervisors also tentatively approved a property tax levy of $2.5890 of $100 of net assessed value, but this is intended as a temporary measure. This is the maximum they are allowed under state law, and they will have to hold a Truth in Taxation hearing before they can formally adopt this levy.
Krukemyer said the county plans to adopt a lower levy when the final budget is approved. Under state law, a tax levy cannot be increased once it is tentatively approved, although it can be lowered. Tentatively adopting the highest rate they can under state law will give them some leeway as they try to balance the general fund.
With the highest tax levy, the county’s revenues are projected at $37,807,000, while revenues are projected at $35,825,819. The property tax revenue would be $5.5 million.
Krukemyer offered four different levies for the Supervisors’ consideration. With the maximum property rate at $2.5890 per $100 of net assessed value, the highest they could go without a truth in taxation hearing would be $2.4884 of $100 or net assessed value. This would bring in 5.3 million in property tax revenue. To achieve the same revenue as last year ($5.1 million), the rate would need to be $2.4019. The same rate as last year, $2.3607, would bring in $5 million.
District 2 Supervisor Duce Minor noted the budget is $5.2 million over what it was last year. Krukemyer said the FY 2018-19 budget didn’t include $1 million in grants or $1 million in additional fees, so the actual increase is $3.2 million.
Krukemyer said he will look for $1 million in additional fees. He would also work with all the department heads to bring the general fund into balance.
“We need to get this down to what taxpayers can afford,” Minor said. He suggested telling some of the department heads what their budgets are and telling them they’ll have to live with it.
District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin said knew there were expenses the county had no control over.
District 1 Supervisor D.L. Wilson made the motion to tentatively adopt the budget and the high tax levy, on the condition the staff continues to work to get the expenses down and balance the general fund.
Wilson and Irwin approved the motion, while Minor voted “No.”
On another budget matter, the Supervisors approved the tentative budget for the Jail District for FY 2019-20. Revenues include $1.45 million from the excise tax and $2.2 million from the federal government for housing federal inmates. Total expenses are projected at $3.53 million.