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More funding for roads, employee pay, hiring part of proposed 2022 budget for El Paso County

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Commissioners on Tuesday held the first of five scheduled public hearings as part of the approval process for next year's budget.

Nikki Simmons, county controller, presented the administration's preliminary budget; it focuses specifically on discretionary spending (what commissioners can control) and not on spending that is mandated by the state or federal government.

El Paso County

The largest single expenditure proposed is for "high impact" road improvements -- a one-time allocation of $10 million and an annual addition of $1 million.

"How soon we can start those projects depends on whether we follow the normal contract (bid) process or do the work ourselves," said Kevin Mastin, the county's public works director.

KRDO

Mastin already has a preliminary list of roads to be improved with the extra funding, but it won't be finalized until after commissioners approve the budget in December.

More road funding will be available if voters next month allow the county to retain an estimated $15 million in surplus revenue; $13 million of that amount would be dedicated to roads.

El Paso County

A road condition audit this summer revealed that nearly two-thirds of the county's paved and gravel roads are in poor condition or worse.

KRDO

"We've been trying to increase road funding since 2017," Simmons told commissioners. "We allocated an additional $2.3 million that year and are looking at $20.1 million more (next year)."

The proposed budget also includes spending $7.4 million in pay raises for county employees, to offset an expected 3.5% cost of living increase next year.

El Paso County

Filling job vacancies in ten departments will cost the county around $3.6 million.

"We're also going to conduct a salary study to see how many county positions are underfunded," Simmons said. "Increasing pay where needed would help address issues we're having with employee turnover."

KRDO

There could be other critical budget needs revealed by department heads during an upcoming budget hearing.

El Paso County

Simmons also announced that taxpayers will receive an average of $19 from a refund of surplus tax revenue, while homeowners will get an average refund of $24 from a decrease in property taxes net year.

"Even though we're the fastest-growing and most populated county in the state, the TABOR Amendment limits how much property taxes can increase," she said.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Property tax should not need to increase; the quantty of residences is increasing, thus increasing the tax revenue. Thankful for TABOR, because giving a politician access to the checkbook and all you will have left is an empty bank account, and a bunch of paddlebals.

  2. Revenue from property tax will increase mainly due to prop value going up. A review of salaries will show many at the bottom are under paid, while those at the top are paid very well. Too many mid and top managers. They have people with “supervisor” status, who have only two or three people under my them.

  3. Increase taxes!!! more revenue!!! tax everything not nailed down!!! So you DIDN’T get space command and that was the reason stated as to why we wouldn’t have rec pot in our town. They are not here and we are still raising taxes and forgetting the huge amount of taxes that COULD BE collected from allowing rec pot in C.Springs. Right now Manitou and pueblo are getting ALL of our money!! We gotta get that back so we can stop paying thru the nose.

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