Clallam County budget ‘essentially balanced;’ hearings set

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County’s 2018 budget is “essentially balanced” after changes made during meetings Monday, said Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones.

Jones estimated the county’s structural deficit would be about $16,000, a number that is well within the margin of error, he said. In September, the county was facing a $1.8 million structural deficit.

The county is preparing to hold two public hearings on Tuesday, Dec. 5 about the budget. The first will be at 10:30 a.m. and the second will be at 6 p.m. Both meetings are at the Clallam County Courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St., 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 it.

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

The budget now includes additional revenue from the Department of Community Development and decreased costs associated with indigent defense, Jones said. It also includes funding for new code enforcement staff.

The budget shows the county using about $516,000 in reserve funds, $500,000 of which are one-time costs.

“While it is still about [$500,000] upside down for one year, the majority is one-time uses that would not be repeated,” Jones said.

He anticipates starting 2018 with $10.8 million in reserves and ending with about $10.3 million. Commissioners had asked Jones to present them with a balanced budget that left at least $9 million in reserves.

“We have met our goal,” he said.

Commissioner Bill Peach said that if the county starts 2018 with the projected reserves, he would feel comfortable adding more staff across the county, depending on how union negotiations go.

Though the voter-approved 0.1 percent juvenile justice sales tax will be implemented next year, the county won’t receive all of the projected funds from the tax.

Jones is anticipating the tax to raise $700,000 in 2018 and said that by 2019 it should raise about $1.1 million.

The county-wide sales tax won’t take effect until April and the county won’t begin receiving funds until June.

“In 2019, assuming there’s no new surprises, we would be structurally sound,” he said.

During their Monday work session, commissioners also agreed to increase the regular property tax levy by 1 percent.

Jones said that though the levy is increasing, the tax that properties owners will pay will decrease because of new construction.

Commissioners also approved a 1 percent increase in the regular property tax levy for the road fund.

Under state law counties can increase property tax levies up to 1 percent each year without asking voters.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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