El Paso County wants to beef up reserve funds, increase salaries in 2023

El Paso County is budgeting $473 million for expenses next year, which includes a recommended 5 percent salary increase for employees. 

The county is also working to even out salaries based on a recent comprehensive study. A total of $16.4 million is budgeted for the increases. 

El Paso County has just over 3,000 employees. In a presentation to commissioners, El Paso County Chief Financial Officer Nikki Simmons said the 2023 budget only adds 11 full-time positions in an effort to limit the growth of the agency. 

"We've looked heavily at ensuring things are done through contracts," Simmons said. "The overall authorized [full-time employee] count actually goes down from 2022 to 2023."

The proposed budget also includes a one-time allocation of $10 million for work on high-priority road projects. Simmons said the county is investing $20 million more in roads this year than it was just six years ago. 

The plan also sets aside $150,000 to clean up homeless camps, and increases of around $3 million each for the sheriff's office, the Department of Human Services, and the District Attorney's office.

According to Simmons, El Paso County has the lowest property tax, mill levy requirements, and average tax cost per citizen of any of the 10 largest counties in the state. Close to 40 percent of county revenue comes from sales and use tax.

The proposed budget also adds $3 million to the reserve fund. To plan ahead for a possible economic downturn, El Paso County is seeking to hold 18.5 percent of its general fund in reserve.

There will be other public hearings on the budget through mid-November. County staff expect to finalize the 2023 budget in early December.

Read the full proposed 2023 budget.

More stories on Southern Colorado