It seems like overnight Park County’s government went from pinching pennies and cutting staff to giving all employees raises and committing to some delayed infrastructure projects.
That’s the good news, but we hope the Park County commissioners don’t get too comfortable spending money. The good times may not last.
While the biggest chunk of revenue for the county comes from property taxes at 32%, federal programs including CARES funds and Payment in Lieu of Taxes amounted to 15% of the new fiscal year budget.
Without the CARES money for last year’s budget, the county would have had to have dipped into its reserves or make severe budget cuts of about $1.2 million, and the county didn’t have much in reserves.
It is good news the county is now able to put some money back in reserves. Last year’s budget showed what would have happened if the CARES money hadn’t appeared and the reserves were depleted.
Park County’s government can use a financial breather. Money has been tight for too long.
County employees needed raises to keep up with the cost of living. There are necessary infrastructure projects throughout the county that have been delayed for years. The county’s reserves needed to be replenished.
Federal monies have been a significant portion of Park County’s fiscal picture for years and the county can certainly use those funds.
But while the free money from the federal government put a Band-Aid on Park County’s new fiscal year budget, we caution the commissioners not to become too dependent on federal funds. Federal monies are nice to have, but they can disappear.
Governmental organizations at all levels need to be able to raise enough revenue on their own to be able to function independently in perpetuity.