County budget balanced: Deficit decreased and plan leaves $10.2 million in reserves

PORT ANGELES — The $123 million 2018 budget Clallam County commissioners adopted last week meets their goal of having a structurally sound budget that doesn’t dip too far into county reserves.

Commissioners thanked staff for keeping pace with changes they frequently requested throughout the budget process following approval of the budget last Tuesday.

“I really appreciate staff being able to keep up with us,” said Commissioner Bill Peach. “There were a lot of iterations and we did make changes here and there.”

He called the process transparent and thorough and said the budget does not dip into the county’s savings “the way we had to last year.”

Throughout the process, most discussion centered around the General Fund, which now projects revenues for 2018 at $39,332,870 and expenditures at $39,911,414.

That means the county would use $578,544 of its projected $10.8 million reserves. The expenses include $687,969 in one-time expenses.

The commissioners had directed County Administrator Jim Jones to create a balanced budget that leaves at least $9.5 million in reserves. This budget shows county reserves at $10.2 million at the end of 2018.

“I appreciate … the fact the county came together looking at what we need to actually have a balanced budget,” said Commissioner Randy Johnson. “That is extremely important.”

He said commissioners went through “several rabbit holes” in an effort to save money.

The budget includes a 1 percent property tax increase, the voter-approved Juvenile Facilities tax and an increase in building permit fees.

The fees, projected to bring in $190,000 in additional revenue, will allow the county to add staff for permitting, code enforcement and facilities maintenance.

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 begin raising about $1.1 million annually.

When commissioners were first presented with the preliminary budget in September, it showed the county facing a $1.8 million deficit.

Jones at the time said that it was closer to about $1 million and he had asked department heads to collectively look for $1 million in cuts.

The budget does not call for any layoffs, furlough days or across-the-board cuts.

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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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