By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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County Administrator Jim Jones told commissioners Tuesday that revenues in the general fund are projected to exceed expenditures, with $30.46 million in revenues, compared with an even $30 million in expenses.
The unanticipated revenue includes $800,289 from the federal government’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes — reimbursement for the presence of non-taxable federal lands such as national parks and Coast Guard bases. The payment was nearly double the budgeted $413,289.
Retail sales tax is projected to hit $4.2 million — $210,000 more than budgeted — and property tax collections are outperforming the budget by $191,607.
“The state Legislature’s cuts did not hit us quite as hard as we had expected during the regular and special budget sessions,” Jones added in a charter-mandated midyear budget review for 2013.
The analysis was based on a three-year average of midyear projections compared with actual performance at year’s end.
Clallam County has $10.5 million in a general fund reserve, of which $7.5 million is restricted.
Early 2014 projections
Meanwhile, early projections for 2014 remain highly ambiguous.
An estimated $1.35 million budget deficit for next year is almost certain to change in the coming months as the county unions renegotiate a batch of two-year labor agreements.
Concessions that saved scores of jobs heading into 2012 are scheduled to expire at the end of this year.
Those concessions, which included deferments in cost-of-living raises and 16 unpaid furlough days for most staffers in 2012 and 2013, are going back to the bargaining table.
“I am unable to forecast reliably what the results of bargaining with the county’s eight unions will mean or what the cost impacts will be,” Jones said.
Salaries and benefits account for $21.8 million of all spending in the $30 million operating budget.
The estimated $1.35 million deficit for 2014 assumes that all concessions will be eliminated, no employees will be laid off, and no new taxes will be imposed.
“All that [estimate] is is a mechanical application of what current policy, current contracts and current law is,” Commissioner Jim McEntire said.
“By definition, [Jones] cannot assume any kind of new contract language, new policy, new ordinances, new anything. You’ve just got to project ahead in a kind of a mindless fashion to show where we would be if nothing changes, and things obviously are going to change.
“That’s the task of the commission going forward.”
Jones will present a preliminary 2014 budget in September, followed by a round of commissioners’ meetings with elected officials and department heads to review budget requests.
A recommended budget will be ready for prime time in November, and the three commissioners will adopt a final budget in early December.
The midyear budget review and adopted budgets dating back to 2008 are available on the county’s website at www.clallam.net.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.