The Board of County Commissioners adopted Lake County’s 2020 budget last week with a 38.192 mill levy, the same as 2019. The budget document is the result of a year of strategic planning work, including training sessions and meetings with department heads and elected officials.

The county plans to invest in several infrastructure projects in 2020, thanks to strong property and sales tax revenue increases.

Lake County’s total net assessed valuation for 2020 is $241,015,313, over $44,500,000 more than in 2019. Next year’s property tax revenue is projected to increase as a result.

Sales tax revenue for 2020 is budgeted at about $2,500,000, another increase from 2019.

Lake County has seen the benefits of Colorado’s remote-sales tax law in 2019, just like the City of Leadville. The new law requires remote vendors to collect and remit sales tax on transactions sourced to buyers in Colorado.

Overall, the 2020 budget estimates a general fund balance of $7,241,242 and a total fund balance of $15,304,667.

Facility upgrades will be a major expense item for the county next year.

For one, the BOCC is prepared to fork out up to $1,000,000 for land acquisition for a new justice center. If all goes as planned, the county will propose a sales tax increase to the voters in November 2020 to help finance the proposed facility’s construction.

Heating and security upgrades are also on the horizon for the courthouse, as well as a new storage building for the maintenance department, new vehicles for Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and Reclamite for the community field and Huck Finn Park.

The budget also earmarks money to conduct a facility master planning process and hire a facility manager in 2020. The manager will oversee the maintenance and upgrades outlined in the plan.

About $370,000 was rolled over from 2019 for the construction of Fire Station 2. No new money was allocated for the station as the amount of shortfall remains unknown. The BOCC terminated its contract with Peak 360 Services & Homecrafters, the project’s original contractor, last month.

As usual, Lake County Road and Bridge will operate under separate revenue sources, primarily the Highway Users Tax Fund and Payments in lieu of Taxes. In 2020, the department plans to repair County Road 9, replace culverts in Twin Lakes and develop a pavement management plan to maintain, improve and replace the county’s asphalt roads. Lake County Landfill’s fees are set to increase by three percent.

The Lake County Airport will see a reduction in revenue in 2020 due to delays affecting the airport’s runway paving project. Lake County will receive 2,100 tons of asphalt, equivalent to about $130,000, from APC Southern Construction Company to offset the lost revenue, as the company was responsible for the delays.

The budget also earmarks funds for the transition to Tyler Technologies software by the building and land use department, the finance director and the treasurer’s office. The software will allow the departments, as well as the assessor (who already uses Tyler), to share real-time data on building permits, valuation, taxes and more.

The board also allocated money to redesign the county-government website and set up live streaming for public meetings.

All county employees will receive a three percent cost of living increase in 2020. The BOCC also set aside $100,000 to begin implementing recommendations from the county’s compensation study which will be completed in January.

The county will contribute $85,000 to the Leadville/Lake County Economic Development Corporation, $40,000 to Lake County Community Fund, $35,000 to Cloud City Conservation Center and $2,000 to the Advocates of Lake County.

The BOCC also allocated $332,601 to the mine closure fund, bringing the 2020 balance to $2,579,134.

“Kristol did an amazing job,” Commissioner Kayla Marcella said of the county’s finance director. “We are really proud of her and thankful for her.”

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