Sep 21, 2010 7:31 PM by Zach Thaxton

El Paso County budget outlook: good now, bad later

The preliminary outlook for El Paso County's 2011 budget looks positive, but the years that follow don't look as rosy.

El Paso County Budget Officer Nicola Sapp presented a first glimpse at the 2011 budget Tuesday at the Board of County Commissioners meeting.  Sales and use tax revenues are expected to increase slightly more than 1.5 percent, or $66.7 million in 2011.  Sapp says that's a conservative estimate and sales and use tax revenues could surge more than that as consumers resume discretionary spending.

However, future years will be more difficult.  Property tax revenues are expected to decrease by 13 percent for 2013 and 2014 as residential and commercial property values continue to decline.  El Paso County Administrator Jeff Green says there are signs residential property values may have bottomed out, but commercial property values continue to decline.  "2014 and 2015 is when you're potentially looking at a shortfall of almost $3 million and then $5 million in 2015," Sapp said.

Sapp says those projections don't factor in possible passage of Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 on the statewide November ballot.  "The impact over the next 5 years is just shy of $100 million," Sapp said of the potential result of passage of Proposition 101.  "If Proposition 101 passes, I will be in front of you that very week for an emergency budget meeting to determine how we would address cuts to this magnitude and reductions in services to this magnitude."

Individual El Paso County departments and offices will present commissioners with lists of their critical needs on Thursday.  The 2011 Preliminary Balanced Budget will be presented October 14.


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