A new analysis of the audited financial reports found Jefferson County has a Taxpayer BurdenTM of $500, earning it a “C” grade from Truth in Accounting.
According to its latest financial report, the county has been subject to financial downturns usual in counties that depend heavily on mining and natural resources for their revenue base. Mines in the region have been closing over the last few decades, reducing the tax base for the county. Additionally, much of The Montana Development Center in Boulder closed in 2015, eliminating valuable jobs. The county experienced drastic water quality issues and failed septic systems in Clancy, which necessitated a special water district and new grant funding. The county admits it is heavily dependent on funding from the federal government, stating it would be an unimaginable hardship to lose its federal dollars. These and other issues contribute to a debt burden of $1.9 million. That burden equates to $500 for every county taxpayer.
Jefferson County’s financial problems also stem from unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over the years. Of the $27.4 million in retirement benefits promised, the County has not funded $4.9 million in pension and $387,000 in retiree health care benefits.
Click here to review the Financial State of Jefferson County.