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County budget looking good for 2019

Projects like the Slate River bridge and suicide prevention taking shape

By Cayla Vidmar

The 2019 Gunnison County budget is sitting at about $100 million, and will end up with an estimated fund balance of $77 million at the end of 2019.However, if you take out the $46 million Gunnison Valley Health budget, which is adopted under the county umbrella as a component unit of Gunnison County, the county budget is about $55 million and will have an estimated fund balance of about $24 million at the end of the year.

The Slate River bridge replacement project, located by the Crested Butte cemetery, will begin with the 2019 budget with engineering and design. Suicide prevention measures are getting $10,000 in 2019. Overall, the county looks to be lined up for a healthy budget cycle in 2019.

“The 2019 budget spending is up by about  $5 million compared to 2018, largely due to capital costs for the airport, housing and the Rural Transportation Authority,” writes county finance director Linda Nienhueser. She explains that the increase will largely be covered by grant revenues: the county will receive a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for two projects, which include terminal architect and engineering design, and snow removal equipment for the airport.

Nienhueser says, “The Rural Transportation Fund total revenues are up $900,000 due primarily to combined grants for 80 percent of the purchase price for a new CNG [compressed natural gas] bus,” which will sport a fresh Rural Transportation Authority–branded design.

Gunnison Valley Health accounts for the largest line item in the budget, with $46 million, with roads and bridges coming in second at $5 million, and the RTA at $4.9 million.

The budget shows $200,000 allotted for the Slate River bridge project. The funds will be used for engineering and preliminary design costs, according to Nienhueser. There is $300,000 allotted for “workforce impact projects,” which was not allotted for in 2018. Nienhueser explains this money will be used to address infrastructure costs for Lot 22 at Rock Creek in Gunnison to prepare the lot for construction of affordable housing units in the future.

There is $10,000 allotted for suicide prevention in 2019, and youth programming coordinator Emily Mirza says the bulk of that money will pay for a suicide prevention coordinator position she will take over. This position will manage valley-wide suicide prevention efforts, and “bring people in to make stuff happen,” Mirza says, including trainers for various programs like SafeTalk. She hopes to secure more funding for suicide prevention efforts in 2019, to continue growing the program and to offer trainings more consistently.

The county budget hearing is scheduled for December 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of County Commissioners meeting room, and the adoption of the 2019 budget will take place December 14.

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