source: Vail Daily from November 20,2022, written by Scott Miller
Eagle County government set to continue spending on housing, boosting compensation
Eagle Valley Trail project set to see $6 million in 2023
$181 million: Anticipated Eagle County revenue in 2023 across all funds.
$194 million: Anticipated county spending in 2023 across all funds.
$250 million: Reserves across all county funds.
$5.5 million: Expected increases in compensation for county employees.
County finance director Jill Klosterman and deputy finance director Anna Earl recently took time to detail some of the spending outlined in the budget for next year.
The county is spending several million from its reserves to meet required spending and the commissioners’ strategic goals.
Housing is at the top of that list of goals.
The 2023 budget devotes $10.6 million to housing. That doesn’t include money appropriated this year for planning for a project in West Eagle — $1.4 million — and $11.5 million for new apartments near the Colorado Mountain College Edwards campus.
More Bold Housing Moves
Klosterman said the $10.6 million budgeted for 2023 will go toward the county’s Bold Housing Moves initiatives, aimed at helping residents buy homes. The county will also start planning a new housing and office building on the northwest side of the Freedom Park campus in Edwards.
The county’s 560-person workforce will also see increased funding, with an additional $5.5 million going toward increased pay and a merit pay pool. The budget proposes six new positions, including a new property manager’s position, along with a detentions case worker and a weed and natural resources specialist in the county’s open space department.
Klosterman said the county is also conducting a market study to see how its pay and benefits stack up against comparable counties. The county will also increase contributions to employees’ retirement plans. Employees won’t be increased.
Trail work continues
Projects this year include $6 million for the Eagle Valley Trail. These funds will go toward the design for the stretch from Edwards to the Horn Ranch east of Eagle, as well as construction in EagleVail and into Minturn.
Another of the commissioners’ strategic priorities is early childhood funding. Anticipated spending of about $4.5 million will come in part from property tax collections and grant funding.
County voters this year passed a new lodging tax. That tax will be assessed on lodging in unincorporated Eagle County, and will primarily affect Beaver Creek. The tax is expected to raise $3 million in its first year. Most of the proceeds will go toward child care and housing, with 10% dedicated to marketing. That smaller amount will be budgeted for 2023. Klosterman said next year the commissioners will create criteria to spend the bulk of the tax revenue on housing and child care.
The 2023 budget dedicates another $1.2 million for wildfire mitigation. Another $1.4 million will be dedicated to climate initiatives. Much of that is dedicated to rebates for homeowners’ energy efficiency efforts.
While the current budget is pretty well set, and spending is roughly flat with 2022 levels, Klosterman said there are also contingency plans in case the state or national economies take a downturn.
“We’ve provided the commissioners with a list of things we can do,” Klosterman said. Those actions include holding open vacant positions, deferring capital programs and adjusting spending on priorities.
The commissioners are set for a Nov. 29 hearing on the full budget. That hearing is scheduled for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Adoption is set for Dec. 6.