The Montezuma County commission continued its search Monday for ways to deal with a severe financial crunch in 2018.
County Administrator Melissa Brunner said that although a special meeting last week had produced suggestions for shaving about $400,000 from proposed department budgets, the county was still facing a deficit of more than $1 million in general-fund revenues if all remaining requests were granted. With the final version of the budget due in early December, Brunner and the commissioners mulled over other possible cuts. Those include reducing non-essential employees’ weekly hours from 40 to 35 and eliminating contributions to some non-profits that have traditionally been funded. Another idea is cutting the commission’s own expenditures for travel and dues to organizations such as the Region 9 Economic Development District. The board made no decisions on those options, but it has already decided not to give county employees a 2 percent cost-of-living increase next year. A motion by Commissioner Keenan Ertel to rescind a 10 percent pay hike for all elected officials that was slated for 2019 did pass unanimously. Ertel said a major reduction in the county workforce by as many as 20 jobs may become necessary if the economic picture doesn’t improve in the coming year. Chairman Larry Don Suckla commented, “Sometimes it’s not much fun being a commissioner.”