Early budget predicts $1 million deficit for Clallam County

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County officials are starting to take a close look at the 2020 budget, which Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane emphasized Tuesday is in its early stages.

He presented the preliminary roll-up budget to the commissioners Tuesday, showing the county is expecting to use about $1 million in reserves next year to balance the budget, though there are many changes expected before commissioners approve the final budget in December.

“This really represents the first step of our budget process,” Lane said. “I use the word ‘preliminary’ to highlight that there are a number of things that need to be incorporated.”

The $1 million deficit predicted in this early budget is not far off from the $1 million deficit that was predicted in last year’s budget, and officials expect to end this year by putting close to $350,000 back into the general fund reserves.

The 2020 preliminary budget predicts general fund revenues to be $42.4 million — a 2.27 percent increase over 2019 — and general fund expenditures to increase 2 percent over the 2019 budget to $43.4 million.

The county will hold a series of public meetings throughout the county to present the budget during its annual Road Show.

The first is today at 11:30 a.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, 221 Lincoln St., in Port Angeles during the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Lane told commissioners this budget takes a conservative approach and includes assumptions of a slowing economy.

“There’s been a lot of noise in the last few months related to potential recessionary signals,” Lane told commissioners, citing volatility in equity markets and trade challenges with China as examples.

“While I’m not projecting a recession, I certainly see there being some signs to support there being slowdown that takes hold next year.

“I’m a big believer in trying not to overestimate how well you’re doing based on how you’re doing right now.”

The budget projects tax revenues to increase 2.57 percent and for property taxes to increase 3.15 percent.

As the budget moves toward adoption in December, staff will meet with department heads to get more details before making a recommendation to commissioners. Commissioners will then meet with department heads prior to adopting the budget.

Lane told commissioners that the projected $1 million deficit does not include capital requests or department requests.

This year department heads are requesting a total of $1.78 million in additional general fund expenditures, $1.1 million of which includes one-time requests and $680,000 of which would require ongoing funding.

The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is requesting $421,000. Of that, $350,000 is related to expenses for multiple homicide cases being prosecuted.

Juvenile and Family services is requesting $331,000 of ongoing spending related to hiring two additional juvenile services officers, two additional court appointed special advocate volunteer coordinators and one part-time administrative assistant. Juvenile has applied for a grant that would cover the majority of those costs.

Superior Court is requesting $158,000, most of which relates to indigent defense, expert services and evaluations costs expected for multiple homicide cases.

The Department of Community Development is requesting $259,550, of which $210,000 would be spent on studies of the Port Angeles Urban Growth Area, as well as additional funding for code enforcement.

Parks and Facilities is asking for nearly $100,000 in ongoing costs to fund additional maintenance work and a part-time customer service assistant.

There is also a request for $92,000 to subsidize the Clallam Bay Sekiu Sewer budget and a request for $260,000 that would fund information technology equipment, software and copier replacement requests.

The developing budget will also be presented at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 24 to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Guy Cole Center in Sequim.

A third meeting is set for noon Oct. 2 at the Forks Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Blakeslee’s Bar & Grill in Forks.

The budget is expected to be adopted Dec. 3 during a final public hearing set for 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Clallam County Courthouse.

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

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