The Montezuma County commissioners will meet with department heads Thursday in an attempt to reconcile a $1.5 million disparity between budget requests for 2018 and anticipated general-fund revenues.
On Monday, Commission Chair Larry Don Suckla expressed dismay at the requests, saying revenues in the coming year won’t even keep pace with 2017 and he did not understand why officials would seek increases beyond that. During a discussion with Sheriff Steve Nowlin, Commissioner Keenan Ertel said Nowlin’s budget request was “way beyond” what the county could afford. In October Nowlin had asked for a $176,000 increase that would bring his office’s budget to about $2.6 million, as well as an increase of $240,000 in the jail budget to about $2.5 million. Nowlin said he was delaying a plan to equip all deputies with body cameras. He said the sheriff’s office is doing the best it can with what it has but cutting funds for public safety puts everyone at risk. Ertel said he had hoped the sheriff’s office would find greater efficiencies. Administrator Melissa Brunner said she was at a loss as to where to start cutting. She said the departments’ original requests were $2 million over projected revenues but she had whittled that down to $1.5 million. Ertel said the county has to decide what is essential. He said, “When you’re in a shrinking economy, everything has to shrink with it."