Jefferson County budget has good outlook

Commissioners expected to vote next week

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County officials say the next two years are looking positive financially.

County commissioners got their first look at the biennial budget Monday, a document which Administrator Mark McCauley said reflects a cautiously optimistic outlook for the next two years.

“If projections hold, we’re going to have a very good five-year period ahead of us,” McCauley said. “We’ve insulated ourselves somewhat against an economic downturn.”

Commissioners are expected to approve the budget at their next meeting on Monday.

Total projected revenues for 2024 are more than $101.4 million and $84.3 million in 2025, according to meeting documents, with expenditures estimated to be approximately $109.8 million in 2024 and $91.3 million in 2025.

The county has seen “tremendous” investment income, higher-than-normal timber sales and strong sales tax revenue, resulting in record-setting reserves for the general fund, the county said.

Included is a 12 percent pay increase for one of the county’s bargaining units — the United Food and Commercial Workers — even as labor negotiations continue.

The budget also includes 1 percent property tax increases for the road fund; general fund; conservation futures fund and base sales tax. A sales tax of 0.1 percent is being added for the criminal justice fund; mental health and chemical dependency; Jeffcom 911 and housing and related services.

The Port Hadlock sewer project is fully funded and under construction with $35 million from state and federal grant funding, and the Department of Community Development is now fully staffed.

However, chronic fund shortages are occurring in some funds such as the road fund, largely driven by increases in property taxes not being able to keep up with inflation. Property taxes are limited to an annual 1 percent increase, but inflation has been at 21.5 percent since 2020, meeting documents said.

Additionally, the transition to electric vehicles is stalling the growth of the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax, which is used to fund road projects.

McCauley called the levels of inflation “stunning” and said it is making things more difficult for local governments.

“This is making life difficult not just for us but for businesses and governments that rely on tax revenues,” he said.

At the end of 2023, the county will have a fund balance of $8.4 million, with a projected ending fund balance of $7.6 million in 2024 and $7.2 million in 2025.

The county maintains a general fund reserve of 15 percent of expenditures, which in 2024 will be $4.4 million and $4.3 million in 2025.

Projections through 2028 show a relatively healthy unreserved fund balance, helping to insulate the county from financial downturn, documents said.

Commissioners have been working on the budget periodically since August and made little comment about Monday’s presentation. District 1 Commissioner Kate Dean said the county should start considering ways to save money for a capital project for a new county facility in the future.


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at

More in News

About 11,000 without power between Sequim, Port Angeles

About 11,000 Clallam County PUD customers were without electricity Monday… Continue reading

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

The Washington Cities Insurance Authority will reimburse a full… Continue reading

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option

Olympic Medical Center chief outlines efforts at improvements

Decreased number of travelers among them

Jay and Trudi Inslee wear red for #WearRedDay to support women’s heart health in 2022. (Jay Inslee)
Gov. Inslee reflects in his final year of three terms

On the second level of the white and gray marbled… Continue reading

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer as coworker Robert Bufford prepares to secure the load as the pair prepares to open the parking lot at Port Angeles City Pier to automobiles on Friday. The work was part of a project to improve storm drainage, replace damaged sidewalks and ADA ramps and mitigate shoreline erosion around the lot, which had been closed since early January. Tree replacement and other project detail work is expected to follow over the next few weeks.
City Pier parking open

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer… Continue reading

Sequim Citizen of the Year luncheon on Tuesday

Emiko Brock, Labbe, Olsen to be honored

EYE ON THE PENINSULA: Broadband, public health before county boards

Government meetings across North Olympic Peninsula

A pair of Clallam Transit buses sit at The Gateway Transit Center in Port Angeles in preparation for their fixed-route runs on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam Transit sees large rise in ridership

No issues seen with new zero-fare policy

Plans move ahead for Quilcene skate park

Jefferson County, volunteers seek grants

Peninsula College Foundation reports record levels of giving

Programs, students both recipients of funds