Eagle County approves spending of $4 million revenue surplus

An increase in sales tax revenue exceeded expectations for the first quarter of 2022, contributing more than $3 million in excess funds. A portion of these funds will be used to upgrade the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Eagle County Regional Airport / Courtesy Photo

Eagle County generated a revenue surplus of $4.2 million in 2022, primarily attributed to increased sales tax revenue. This week, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners approved a supplementary budget request that will allocate just over $4 million of that surplus to various project requests that were not included in the budget passed in 2022.

Jill Klosterman, the county’s chief financial officer, shared the monthly sales tax report at Tuesday’s board meeting, which shows the countywide 1% sales tax brought in a little more than 10 million between January and March of this year, considerably exceeding the income of the last five years at the same period. The county had projected $7.3 million in sales tax revenue at that time, but a spike in prices and increased sales exceeded that estimate.

“In March 2022, we collected about as much as in May 2021,” Klosterman said. “We don’t know if this will continue, we don’t want to make any assumptions about what the rest of the year might look like, but this is income we have in hand – it’s in the bank, the treasurer invested it – so we thought we’d include it in this additional request.

The supplementary budget includes funding for dozens of projects, as well as the creation of 14.5 new full-time equivalent positions. Among the most significant items approved for funding are $544,607 for the acquisition of the Quail Run Townhouse to house ECO Transit employees, $350,000 for a new approach instrument system at the Eagle County, $300,000 for ECO Transit fleet expansion, $215,000 for a new camera system at the detention center and $180,000 for an updated transformer and electrical system at the Eagle County exhibits.

$103,000 is going to start a public health relationship with Family Connects International, which aims to establish a universal home visiting program for newborns in the county. The airport will also receive $200,000 to add a second concession location and $175,000 for restroom upgrades.

The 14.5 new full-time equivalent positions include a cybersecurity analyst, a number of public health positions – including two Family Connects International nurses – an operations manager for the landfill to help reduce waste emissions, and roles additional staff at the airport, and with road, bridge and fleet departments. The budget also notes the subtraction of 4.5 existing public health posts, which were expanded during the pandemic and are no longer needed at this time.

Combined, that’s a net addition of 10 full-time salaries, but the 2022 Supplementary Budget only pays for five, with the rest covered by grants and salary savings on the 47 county government vacancies currently. .

“While saving on vacancies is good from a financial standpoint, it’s not good for those filling in the blanks and working extra shifts, so we want to have a full complement, or as complete as possible,” Klosterman said.

Klosterman reassured commissioners that even with the additional $4 million in spending, the county is well positioned financially and should exceed initial projections for its reserve fund by year’s end, reaching more than $277 million. With so much money in reserve, Klosterman and his team are confident and advise that the best thing to do with excess funds is to put them to work in the community.

“I’m sure you see as much talk of recession as I do. You can rest assured that we’re in a good position to handle a drop in revenue if we see that here, and that’s something we’re paying attention to,” Klosterman said. “We want to be careful about that, but we also want to put the money into the community. We really see our role as serving the needs of the community, so we want to save the right amount, but we don’t want to save too much.