Guest Opinion: Think you understand budgets?

Take a look at this!


When the expenditures exceed the budget you just vote in more debt to cover the shortfall. Then of course you need more revenue to cover the debt. However this usually is referred to the IRS but if taxes were increased to cover the debt then most of the families in the country would be bankrupt. So the debt keeps rising. . .see 2008-2016 for the worst case scenario. That’s why the current administration is working very hard on increasing revenue by increasing business. Much like our town.


If your house is facing foreclosure you have two choices: a) pack your things and look for an apartment. Or b) dip into your savings (reserves) and redeem the mortgage (if you’ve planned that far ahead and are prepared for this temporary shortfall) in the hopes that things will improve and you can not only recover but move forward.

Which of these two more closely resembles your town’s municipal budget?

ANSWER: Interestingly enough, it’s number two. State, county and municipal governments are not allowed to “deficit spend” like the federal government does.

So what do we do in a crisis or shortfall. . .much like Monte Vista is facing today?

According to our charter, Colorado Municipal League (CML) Guidelines and Best Practices established by these entities and governmental agencies around this state and others, there are established and acceptable guidelines and minimum limits for reserve amounts which we ardently observe and to which we strictly comply.

So why would a 30k shortfall in the $3 million General Fund budget cause a restructuring of the proposed budget? And why would a $1.4 million shortfall in the Water and Sewer Fund budget additionally cause a call to eliminate the police department, recreation department, personnel, essential services and more?

Very simply, ignorance. Or to be more politically correct, lack of necessary information. You see, since we cannot operate like the feds (thank God) we have established reserves in those fund balances to cover the aforementioned shortages. And these balances are well within the required/recommended reserves established by the aforementioned entities who govern/control the fiscal well being of Colorado municipalities. And, yes, our fund balances are well within those prescribed guidelines even AFTER dealing with the aforementioned critical shortfalls.

But what about next year and the years following? Good question. These reserves are obviously not infinite and in fact partially earmarked for other future projects. So what is the answer?

Revenue. Lots of revenue. Does that include taxes? Possibly but our concentration from the beginning has been economic improvement. . .meaning ‘business’. . .all types of business.

Which is why this council ran on the platform of ‘Real Change and Real Growth’.

Mostly because nothing has changed much in the last few decades in Monte Vista … except crime, drugs and decline. Things are now however on the upswing. Due to us? Maybe. But our inexperienced attempts at economic development and growth combined with long term advances by economic councils around the Valley have made a difference.

The national economic environment hasn’t hurt either. But that typically takes a long time to impact rural areas like the San Luis Valley. More importantly for us, however this bodes well for the future.

So what about our current problem and those ‘reserves’?

Well simple logic would dictate two choices:

a) wipe out almost all the services currently supplied by our city coffers as mentioned above in order to hang on to those precious reserves. Resulting of course in debilitating loss of personnel, the county taking over law enforcement and residents and businesses fleeing en masse. . .which they will.

Or. . . b) use the required reserves to save the town in anticipation of things improving. . .which they are.

Is this then called ‘deficit spending’? You could say that. . .but it certainly does not apply according to the federal definition. . .and it certainly cannot continue. But in light of the two scenarios available, it is certainly the preferred choice to folding our cards and calling it quits.

So let us as a city do the intelligent thing and follow CML and the Best Practices established over the almost 150 years of the great state of Colorado’s existence and move on without affecting our personnel and/or services to a brighter future which has already taken foothold under the direction of our current administration and appointed economic developer.

If you agree then please respond to your elected representatives at the City Of Monte Vista website ( and then show up at the next work session (6 p.m., Tuesday, November 27) where the options just presented will be discussed. If you are a Monte Vista resident this could be critically important.

In addition, please attend the next city council meeting (6 p.m. Thursday, December 6). Both meetings are held at Monte Vista City Hall, 95 West First Ave. (Highway 160), Monte Vista, CO. (719) 852-2692.

Gary Johnson

Monte Vista City Council


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