Garfield County commissioners raised county employee salaries while paring back other areas in its recently approved $3.7 million budget.

"We had to make some tough decisions, but we were able to take care of the county's employees without raising taxes, our paramount objective." That's how Garfield County Commission Chairman Tom Hatch viewed what he called "responsible" county budget.That budget is $1.6 million less than the 1990 budget, but the spread is less when spending is adjusted for road construction on the Burr Trail. The county spent $2 million of a $7 million grant from the Utah Community Impact Board last year on the Burr Trail construction but will spend only half that much from the fund this year.

It was also announced that Panguitch City Manager Bruce Fullmer changed employers and positions, now working as budget officer for Garfield County. Fullmer's position and that of the justice of the peace at Ticaboo won't be filled. Also, Garfield County won't have to pay the salary for a deputy at Ticaboo and Bullfrog. That cost will be picked up by Kane County for the next three years through a special agreement.

A decrease of nearly $84,000 was noted in the sheriff's budget, partly because a drug force deputy left the area. Commissioners said a source of funding is uncertain and there has not been a replacement.

These changes left county commissioners with a little more money for employees, who received 3.5 percent salary raises and increased benefits. The county will also absorb cost increases of medical insurance, averaging $42 per month for each employee.

Other budget reductions were absorbed by road maintenance, exhibits and county fair, flood control and emergency communications.