Our journey to right-sizing Clackamas County's budget
One of my duties as Clackamas County administrator is to propose a balanced county budget to the county Budget Committee and county commissioners. Delivering on this responsibility represents one of the five strategic priorities outlined by the county's Performance Clackamas plan: "Build Public Trust through Good Government."
In late June, county commissioners passed an adopted budget totaling approximately $863 million. The total amount the county is responsible for is $1.22 billion, when special districts and agencies are included.
These numbers may seem high, but most of those funds come from federal and state government sources to provide needed services. And certain funding streams are dedicated, by law, for certain purposes, such as road funding.
During development of the budget, we discovered that while property taxes rose about 5%, our projected expenses were increasing by an estimated 7%. This created a deficit of approximately $12 million to fulfill our programs and services. To close this gap, county departments were asked to cut costs by 2 to 5%.
They responded, but their actions alone did not make up the difference. To balance our budget, I drew upon two separate sources of one-time-only funds that cannot be used again.
As a result of these measures, our newly-adopted budget is actually about $17 million less than the amended budget from last fiscal year. And we accomplished this without any loss of staff or cutting of any program or services.
But this is the first step in a long journey. Going forward, the county budget must be right-sized to ensure that we provide careful oversight and stewardship of our general fund budget and that we live within our means, just as you do.
County expenditures are outpacing our funding streams. There are many reasons for this that other governments in the region have experienced — declining state and federal revenues, increased costs for materials and rising financial obligations, such as PERS, just to name a few.
As of July 1, a countywide hiring freeze has been in effect, with a centralized process to evaluate the need of the position before filling it. Priority will be given to jobs that are essential to our service delivery. I have the utmost confidence in the county's dedicated workforce to handle this challenge.
During the upcoming 11 months, our leadership and staff will explore ideas that help provide and maintain sustainable budgets now and into the future.
That's where you come in. We need to hear from you about what services you most value from your county. Your feedback makes a direct difference. That's why the board has established so many advisory boards and commissions staffed by residents, and why they pay such great attention to public comments and feedback.
We want your ideas on how we can streamline our operations, improve our efficiency with your public dollars, and best deliver services. We want to hear your best ideas on how to tighten our belts.
Through a robust outreach process to start early this fall, you will have several opportunities to offer your perspective. You will be able to do so digitally and in-person, both to me and county commissioners. Your voice will be heard.
Be sure to follow #ClackCo's social media channels, check our website at clackamas.us and keep reading the #ClackCo Quarterly to hear about these opportunities.
Thank you, and as always, I look forward to serving you in SPIRIT — (S)ervice, (P)rofessionalism, (I)ntegrity, (R)espect, (I)ndividual accountability and (T)rust. For more on Performance Clackamas, visit clackamas.us/performance.
County adopts 2019-2020 budget
The Board of County Commissioners formally adopted the fiscal year 2019-20 budgets in late June.
The action followed a series of public meetings and hearings by the county's Budget Committee in late May and early June. When adding in the adopted budgets and reserves for county-governed districts and agencies — such as Water Environment Services and the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District — the all-adopted budgets total $1,228,320,903, which includes property taxes, dedicated state and federal funds, grants and other revenue sources.
The adopted general budget for Clackamas County is $862,850,923, including reserves.
For more information, go to clackamas.us/budget.
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