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Montrose County commissioners called for a round of applause for staff on Wednesday, when they formally approved a 2019 budget of $81.4 million, plus a $2 million reserve.

“It’s a lengthy process and we made it through again,” Assistant Finance Director Lanny Paulson said, thanking the staff. “The result of this process is what I believe is a very solid operating plan for 2019. I think it will allow us to continue to provide a quality level of services to citizens of Montrose County.”

By state law, the county budget is appropriated at the fund level. The general fund, with more than $25.05 million appropriated, saw the lion’s share of appropriations. With its beginning fund balance, less expenditures and transfers out to other funds, an ending fund balance of $16.7 million is projected for the general fund. The ending fund balance for the overall budget is projected to be $42.6 million.

Other fund appropriations for 2019 were made to public health, public safety sales tax, road and bridge, social services, solid wastes, capital expenditures, airport operations, fleet management, communications center, impact fees, conservation and the event center.

The budget also includes $2 million in reserves, as required under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, bringing the total county budget to more than $83 million.

“I appreciate all the work you’ve done on that — and I can’t wait to start in a month on next year’s budget,” Commissioner Sue Hansen said.

“I want to thank you guys,” Commissioner Roger Rash said to staffers present, just before initiating applause.

“They worked their tails off. We are so fortunate to have this staff to help manage our county finances. … We make a few of the hard decisions, but the real grind is these guys and gals. They worked through this budget diligently to serve our citizens.”

Commissioners on Wednesday also formally adopted the 2019 mill levy, setting it at 23.597 mills — a 23.528 gross mill levy with an abatement levy of 0.069 mills.

“That’s adequate to keep us going,” Montrose County Manager Ken Norris said Thursday.

On Wednesday, commissioners also approved an agreement that green-lights bringing Ned LeDoux to the Montrose County Event Center in February.

The agreement with Buffalo Skull LLC/ LeDoux is for a Feb. 23 concert with a $17,500 guaranteed fee and 50 percent of ticket revenue, less purchase processing fees, for tickets sold beyond a guarantee count of 2,250.

The total estimated expense is about $43,000, with a net profit potential of $56,000.

Ned LeDoux is the son of artist Chris LeDoux. “What I like most about him is he has multi-generational pull. One week, he’ll be at a college bar, and the next week, he’ll be at a cowboy poetry reading. So for our community, he could draw several different age groups,” fairgrounds and event center director Emily Sanchez said.

“He provides a really quality show. He’s an outstanding artist and easy to work with and he’s someone who could help us break ground on our first concert.”

Not much else is going on in Montrose on Feb. 23 that would compete with the concert, she added.

“He has kind of that following that will help our area,” Sanchez said.

A booking of this nature is always something of a gamble, she said. “The concert business is super hard. I have not seen it done quite right. … It’s that super scary portion of being successful and walking away with a few dollars or losing $17,500,” she said.

After being informed that all revisions to the contract must be initialed by both parties, the commissioners authorized the contract.

“Thank you for all the hard work,” Rash said.

“We have to sometimes spend money to make money. This is an effort by the board of county commissioners to try to make that happen,” Hansen said. “We’re hoping for the best.”

Commissioners went on to approve a slight modification to fair board bylaws. The change allows the board president voting rights, unless there is an even number of sitting board members.

In the past, the fair board has been reluctant to select a president, because that person did not have voting options, fairgrounds event coordinator Stoney Field said.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is an award-winning journalist and the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.

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