Commissioners approve 2024-25 county budget

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Churchill County commissioners approved the 2024-25 county budget May 22 and discussed the differences between the tentative budget, proposed in February, and the final budget, approved for submission to the Nevada Department of Taxation last month.

Comptroller Sherry Wideman explained that revenues were down by 2.77%, or $1,957,646, from those presented in the tentative budget hearings in February due to reduced revenues from CC Communications and grants.

Looking at these lower-than-anticipated revenues, county leadership asked departments to pull-back current year expenditures by 10% on a portion of their remaining 2023-24 budget and an additional 15% on the same portion of the 2024-25 budget to meet projected revenue. The requested reductions resulted in overall savings of 1.62%, or $1,128,729 between the tentative and the final budget for 2024-25.

Following the cost-saving measures taken by departments, the 2024-25 budget came in at an estimated ending fund balance of $40,829,097.

County Manager Jim Barbee took a few minutes to clear up some misconceptions he has been hearing from the public. He said the county is in “very strong financial shape” citing that within the annual comprehensive financial report, the county’s net position in 2018 was $136 million with growth to $189 million by 2023, clearly a gain in the county’s financial strength and an upward trend.

He said that many government functions that operate using general funds monies had reduced their expenditures from 2024 to 2025. Examples include data processing, human resources, emergency management and building inspections. Savings were gained when longtime personnel retired or left the county and with the combining of departments.

With the state-mandated requirement to increase personnel in the Public Defender’s Office, Barbee explained that the state will pick up 90% of the cost for doing so, leaving the county responsible for 10%. Over the past few years, the county has spent about $450,000 on the Public Defender’s Office and will continue to do so with slight increases for inflation. The state will pick up the bulk of the cost for remodeling new office space for the larger Public Defender offices, the furniture associated with new offices, and the hiring of five new staff from a state fund set aside for this purpose.

Barbee explained that the county has spent about $290,000 per year on maintenance at the 3C Event Complex as a whole (including the aquatic center, ball fields, Rafter 3C Arena, etc.), but that money was well-spent because the facility generates economic development dollars in booking fees to help cover the annual maintenance costs. Furthermore, the events held at the 3C Event complex, including the arena, have a huge economic impact on the local economy. He said the county uses a conservative estimate of $9 million in economic impact from outside events and visitors coming into the local community.

“We think we should be between $10-12 million in economic impact in fiscal year 2024,” Barbee said.

Barbee went on to suggest a change in the way the budget is presented in coming years. He said the Comptroller’s Office will present department heads with a base budget in January with predictions for growth for the remainder of the fiscal year. That way, department heads will have a better idea of projected growth and expected revenue.

Anne McMillin is Churchill County public information officer.


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