Clallam County commissioners review proposed budget

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners reviewed a proposed budget Monday that is closer to being balanced than a couple of months ago, but will be considering up to $800,000 in new expenses.

Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones told the commissioners during a work session Monday that the county’s structural deficit for 2018 had been reduced to $100,000 — meaning that amount would come out of reserves — after accounting for about $400,000 in new revenue from property taxes, timber sales, and permits that hadn’t yet been added to the draft budget.

“I think with the new revenue, we still have a $100,000 structural issue and on a $40 million budget, that’s not bad,” Jones told the commissioners. “We are at a structurally-sound budget.”

In September, the county was facing a $1.8 million structural deficit.

The 2018 draft budget now projects general fund revenues at $38,586,360, which includes $700,000 from the voter-approved 0.1 percent juvenile detention facilities tax, and a reduction of $600,000 that is no longer being transferred from the Roads Department. It doesn’t include the $400,000 in new revenue.

Though the tax is projected to raise about $1.1 million annually to support juvenile and family services, the county only anticipates receiving $700,000 in 2018.

This is because the tax doesn’t take effect until April and the county doesn’t begin receiving funds until June, Jones said.

Total general fund expenditures are projected at $39,620,524.

The budget includes $908,546 in special, departmental requests that have been approved $625,693 of which are one-time costs.

“This budget, as it currently sits and without changes, is going to use $1 million of reserves,” Jones said, adding that about half would be one-time costs.

The commissioners have a meeting scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Monday where they will discuss the budget and how to move forward — whether the budget should be approved as is or whether the county should approve some of the departmental requests for more personnel.

“If they don’t hire anyone new, we have a balanced budget,” Jones said.

Commissioners already have decided that there will be no layoffs in 2018 to balance the budget. Jones said that if the county wanted to balance the budget, two furlough days would cover the $100,000 structural deficit.

He said there are a number of other ways to save that money too, including freezing positions after people retire, or across-the-board cuts.

Jones told commissioners that to save $500,000, the county could have seven furlough days or a 1.26 percent across-the-board cut in every general fund department.

He said none of those are suggestions, but they are options.

The county is preparing to hold two public hearing on Dec. 5 about the budget. The first is at 10:30 a.m. and the second is at 6 p.m. Both meetings are at the Clallam County Courthouse at 223 E. Fourth Street, Port Angeles.

That is where commissioners will get updates on last-minute changes to the budget and take testimony from the staff and public before adopting the budget.

Typically commissioners approve the budget the night of the public hearings, but they have until Dec. 12.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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