Facing a 6.5 percent decline in property tax revenue next year due to declining property values, El Paso County commissioners face a crunch in putting together a spending plan for next year.
Especially when you consider that department heads are asking for $12.2 million more in ongoing spending, much of it to hire new workers or restore previously eliminated jobs.
Sheriff Terry Maketa wants to hire more than 100 new employees, most of them deputies.
Some of the budget reduction from property tax will be made up in a slight increase in sales tax that county budget officials are forecasting.
The county's preliminary budget presentation, being made Thursday afternoon, shows flat spending at $93.8 million from 2012 to 2015. Revenue expected next year totals $87.2 million, so the balance would be made up from the county's $20.5 million in reserves.
As for the additional spending sought by department heads, here's a thumbnail sketch of those:
— $408,812 more for the inmate medical contract, jail food contract, gasoline for vehicles, extradition contract, investigation costs such as forensics, and technology.
— $2.2 million more to reinstate previous cuts for deputies in patrol, detentions, school resource officers, DARE, court and transport, 800 megahertz personnel, operating supplies, salaries and overtime.
— $766,219 for ammunition and a 2 percent raise for support services.
— $4.9 million for 34 additional deputies for patrol, 16 new positions in civilian support, three more emergency services employees and equipment to support those positions.
— $122,800 in emergency equipment.
— $3.3 million for 30 more deputies in detentions, 12 more civilian support workers in detentions and nine more for court staffing, and equipment to support those positions.
Total: $11.7 million
Clerk and recorder:
— $3.5 million for adding a south location somewhere in the Fountain Valley, microfilm conversion to digital of records dating to 1861, more staff for the Centennial Hall motor vehicle branch, new technology for the board of equalization process, and the 2012 elections.
— $774,072 to make up for loss of a gaming grant, to bring salaries up to county equivalency in other departments, increases for investigators and attorneys and one new position in the restitution department.
— $176,830 for a toxicologist, a digital X-ray system and a forensic pathologist.
— $100,000 for postage, printing, armored car service, supplies, maintenance of equipment and replacing one eliminated position.
County commissioners are hearing presentations from elected officials today. Other departments will present next week.