San Juan County may be looking to cut $348,675 in expenditures in the coming years in anticipation of a cut in property tax revenues.
A property tax rate will be set on June 24 that could cut total property tax revenues in November by that amount.
The drop is due in large part to a $100 million decrease in county property values. It would represent a 9.48 percent drop in total property tax collections.
Commissioners discussed the rates at the June 17 Commission meeting.
If the county keeps the same tax rate as the past year, the total amount collected will drop by $348,675.
If the county adjusts rates to keep revenue the same as the past year (revenue neutral), the tax rates would increase 9.55 percent.
Last year, the county adopted a revenue neutral rate plus $40,000 to account for increased employee costs. That rate was set during a $125 million increase in property values.
The county is concerned about increased costs due to Obama Care mandates. County Administrator Kelly Pehrson said that a ten percent increase in health care costs could mean up to $190,000 in increased expenditures.
County Clerk Norman Johnson said he had no recommendation for the Commissioners but added that cutting employees may be the only option.
“We are rapidly getting to the point where it is a personnel issue,” said Johnson. “This year’s budget is going to be fascinating.”
Approximately $3 million of the $12 million county budget comes from property taxes. The drop from a rate neutral stance would create a five percent decrease in the entire budget.
Commissioner Bruce Adams said, “We are leaning towards going rate neutral at this point.”
Commissioner Phil Lyman added, “My first reaction is to keep it rate neutral and find a way to creatively increase values.”
Commissioners look to the future with optimism, hoping that growth in centrally assessed property values will help cover the anticipated short-term cuts.
Lyman said, “Centrally-assessed values could double if we could shake a few things loose.”
Adams said he “tends to see that there are things on the horizon. Up to $100 million in wind energy could start by the end of this year and the potash could be a $2 billion project.”
Adams added, “I don’t think that the future is bleak, but we need to be careful about what we are doing this next taxing year.”
Johnson said, “When we are facing things like this, it gives us opportunity to take a close look at our expenditures. The future is great, but if it isn’t on the books on January 1, it has no impact here and now.”
Pehrson added, “If we go rate neutral now, it will mean employees.”
In other matters at the June 17 meeting, Tri-Hurst Construction was formally awarded a $366,305 contract to remodel the county library in Monticello.
Jared Palmer, of Spanish Valley, has been hired to work dispatch in the Sheriff’s department. Once he is certified, he will become a corrections officer.
A $14,950 bid was awarded to Quinn Palmer for 100 concrete cattleguard timbers for the road department.
Extension Agent Jim Keyes announced that the ninth annual San Juan Ranch Horse Sale will take place on July 13 at the County Fairgrounds in Monticello. About 55 horses are set to be sold, including a futurity sale for colts.
Keyes reports that some ranchers are selling down their cattle herd because of drought. He added that the drought will keep beef prices up, as the herd drops. He said there are predictions of high calf prices for years to come.
The Commission approved a $5,000 bid from Scott Saunders to purchase the county Abajo TV property.
Bernie Christensen was appointed to the Monticello Cemetery Special Service District.
A building permit was approved for a Blanding-area home on Pinion Ridge Road.