The $20 million operating budget for the coming year does not raise property taxes or add new employees to the payroll.
“Thanks to the whole county for being very efficient with the taxpayers’ money,” council member Chris Baird said after the measure passed by unanimous vote. “This kind of budget doesn’t just happen.”
Baird, who will be leaving office at the end of the month, urged incoming council members to expect the same frugality from department heads in the future. He also advised county officials to keep the tough economy in mind as they weigh money matters.
Council member Audrey Graham, who also leaves office this month, said she was happy to see the council allocate more money to the Grand County Road Department next year without increasing the overall budget or raising taxes.
The only growth in next year’s budget will be an additional $760,000 anticipated from the Transient Room Tax, which will go from 3 percent to 4.25 percent starting Tuesday, Jan. 1.
Besides holding the line against a property tax increase in 2013, the budget doesn’t include a cost-of-living increase for county employees. Grand County Clerk and Auditor Diana Carroll said some workers who had been receiving lower salaries than their counterparts elsewhere in the state got a small boost in salary earlier this year.
Last week’s meeting was the last one the council will hold this year. At its conclusion, council chairman Gene Ciarus presented plaques of appreciation to Baird, Graham and Chris Conrad, who has been a council member since 2009 and also is leaving office.
“I very much enjoyed this,” said Graham, who has served on the council since 2005.
“I’ll miss everybody,” said Baird, a council member since 2009. “The best part about being a council member is the chance to meet so many great people.”
Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald gave the departing trio a pat on the back, thanking them for service that takes time from members’ regular work and family time.
“The public doesn’t know how much time council members put in,” he said. “It’s often a thankless job and it’s easy to be critical of council members.”
New Grand County Council members Lynn Jackson, Rory Paxman and Elizabeth Tubbs will be sworn in at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, during a ceremony at the courthouse. They won council seats in the Nov. 6 general election, with Jackson and Tubbs running unopposed while Paxman narrowly defeated Kalen Jones.
Incumbent council member Ken Ballantyne won re-election in his race against Joe Downard, but does not legally need to be sworn in, county officials said.