Town, county consider how to keep finances in check

Big ticket items in the 2025 budget talks included emergency services and housing — but local government is still crunching the numbers on public transportation.
Town Councilor Jim Rooks and County Commissioner Greg Epstein and other elected officials hear from joint departments about their 2025 budgets. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

Jackson Town Councilors and Teton County Commissioners gathered earlier this week to discuss the cost of joint services for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s the first look local officials are getting at some department budgets that will end up shaping their 2025 budget.

The all-day meeting began in the county chambers right at 9 a.m. — with high hopes. 

“We’re right on schedule,” County Board Chair Luther Propst said.

“Don’t jinx it,” Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson replied.

Propst and Morton Levinson sat in the center of the room, as representatives from joint services presented their budget needs to the group.

Town and county elected officials hear from joint department leaders about their budgets for the 2025 fiscal year. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

According to Morton Levinson, both the town and the county are looking to keep budgets steady, or even reduce them from last year. This comes, in part, because the town could go off an about $4 million budget cliff in the next few years — if changes aren’t made.

“We’re okay for this year. We’re okay for next year,” Morton Levinson said. “It’s just that the cost of our services that the town needs is increasing at a higher rate than our revenue.”

Solutions to the looming deficit include increasing revenue through taxes, increasing the costs of services or reducing services.

Elected leaders like Commissioner Wes Gardner said the budget of local public transportation agency START needed more work to make the service more financially viable. 

“You can talk about any number of services that START provides, but if we don’t have the proper support, through either of these bodies, the service may not exist,” Gardner said. 

The transportation organization could consider reducing services and increasing fares, as it also discusses whether or not it will continue Jackson’s airport shuttle and Teton Village Association’s involvement in the resort bus. 

No budget was approved at the meeting. The town and the county are expected to approve their budgets separately before July 1, the beginning of their 2025 fiscal year.

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