Clallam County finances faring better than expected

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is on track to use $775,740 in general fund reserves this year, a significant improvement from the $2.75 million that was budgeted, commissioners heard Monday.

Through April, Clallam County had $12.20 million in revenue and $11.44 million in expenses in the general fund for day-to-day operations.

“We’re $761,643 to the good,” County Administrator Jim Jones told commissioners in a monthly budget performance review.

“Basically revenue is down a little, but expenses are down a lot.”

Clallam County collects a big chunk of its annual revenue in April because the first half of annual property taxes are typically due April 30.

This year’s property tax collections were down 4 percent because April ended on a weekend and taxes were due May 2.

“That’s just a timing issue,” Jones said. “We will collect that [property tax].”

Meanwhile, Clallam County had record sales tax collections in each of the past eight months.

Most of that sales tax revenue comes from lumber packages sold for construction, Jones said.

“We have had eight consecutive months where each month was the all-time, all-time high, forever, in Clallam County,” Jones said.

All told, Clallam County collected $6.82 million in taxes through April compared to a budgeted $6.95 million.

On the expense side, Clallam County was under budget in salaries, benefits and contracted services.

More than 94 percent of total expenses come from those three categories.

“Those are our big three,” Jones said. “All three of them are running significantly under their three-year average base projection.”

To help save money, Clallam County has left open five full-time positions that were authorized in the budget.

It also has replaced highly-paid, longtime staffers who retired with new employees who are lower on the salary scale.

Through April, Clallam County had spent $6.20 million on salaries, $2.18 million on benefits and $2.66 million on contracted services.

That’s down from the $6.42 million, $2.35 million and $3.56 million that it budgeted to spend in those areas.

Commissioners requested monthly budget vs. actual performance comparisons to monitor county finances and to look for ways to address a long-term structural budget deficit that could lead to a fiscal “waterfall” if revenues lag.

Jones said the county’s structural budget deficit is about $1.5 million.

“I appreciate this [monthly update] because it kind of helps us watch where we are in this world,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said.

“I don’t like to go over waterfalls.”

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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