Manager suggests budget increase
In his budget recommendation for FY 2015, County Manager Bob Jasper is suggesting more than a six percent increase for capital projects and the addition of eight full-time employees.
Summit County Council members spent Monday afternoon discussing the county’s expenditures for 2015 and Jasper’s preliminary recommendation of a $54.9 million budget.
The suggested budget shows a 6.5 percent increase to the overall operating costs, with $8.8 million exclusively allocated for capital projects.
"Now that the economy has come back, things are looking better and we are starting to build a surplus in our operating budget," Jasper said.
Of the $8.8 million, Jasper suggests using $4.6 million to expand the county services building in Kamas and to build a new landfill cell and fairgrounds. The remaining $4.2 million would be focused on road and bridge projects in Pinebrook, Wanship and Jeremy Ranch.
"This year, we had the largest street maintenance program in the history of the county," Jasper said. "And we will continue to maintain them, but on a smaller scale."
The coming year’s recommended budget also includes nine additional full-time positions within the county, including three positions in animal control, a new court security officer, and an assistant plans examiner in building inspections. Other positions would be switched from part-time to full-time, bringing the county’s staff to 291 full-time employees.
"In the middle of the recession, we didn’t have any money to do any changes to the infrastructure because we were too busy laying people off," Jasper said.
Matt Leavitt, a finance officer with the auditor’s office, said this would be the first addition of this size to replace positions cut during the recession.
"We typically don’t add that many positions. But for the last several years, going back to 2010, we had been cutting," Leavitt said.
Even with the suggested increases, the county would still be operating within its budget and none of the burden would be placed on residents, council member Kim Carson said.
"We have been fortunate enough to have improvement in the economy, so our revenue picture is improving, which allows us to do that," Carson said.
Throughout the next couple of weeks, various departments will be submitting their budget requests to the council. The council will hold budget workshops on Dec. 1 and Dec. 3. Public hearings are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. The council has until Dec. 31 to adopt the 2015 budget.
Until then, the document will remain a work in progress, as the council works with the various departments to finalize their allocations.
Tom Fisher, county manager-elect, said he would be sitting in on budget conversations throughout the month of December, but his involvement would remain minimal.
"I don’t start until Jan. 20 and without having any useful exposure to Summit County, it would be inappropriate for me to have any input," Fisher said. "I expect the council is making the decisions with the current manager and based on their priorities, I will continue to execute that budget as the council directs."