Thursday, June 11, 2009

Commissioners to consider budget changes for 2009-2010

Vancouver, WA – The Board of Clark County Commissioners will hold a public hearing starting at 10 a.m. June 16 to consider changes to the 2009-2010 county budget adopted in December 2008. The hearing will take place in the sixth-floor hearing room of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

Action is needed to prevent a deficit related to an economic downturn steeper than expected since January. First-quarter 2009 revenues were about 9 percent short of what was needed to maintain the $994 million two-year budget, which was already down 6 percent from 2007-2008 and was based on conservative revenue forecasts.

At the direction of the Board, the county administrator has asked the county finance team to prepare a formal supplemental budget proposal to reduce spending through 2010, increase some fees and relieve pressure on the General Fund. As the county’s primary operating fund, the General Fund has been hard hit by reductions in sales tax collections tied to new construction and retail sales.

Key parts of the proposal include:

General Fund departments: Most departments would reduce General Fund spending by about 3 percent from July 2009 through December 2010. Each department would decide how to preserve jobs and minimize reductions in service. Combined, this is intended to save $4.5 million.

Community Development Department: Improve cost recovery for fee-eligible services by increasing fees by up to $3 million overall, based on the latest studies of the work involved. The proposal also calls for Community Development to reduce spending by up to $2 million (including about 20 positions). Goals are to adjust to decreased demand for services linked to construction and to reduce the need for support from the General Fund.

Real Estate Excise Tax: Use $3.6 million to pay on previous capital investments instead of using General Fund dollars and delay future capital investments.

Public Employees’ Retirement System: As directed by the State of Washington, reduce investments planned through 2010 by $2.7 million; prepare to increase investments starting in 2011.

County Road Fund: Use $2.5 million from this source to pay the Sheriff’s Office to patrol county roads in 2010 and thus reduce the Sheriff’s need for General Fund dollars; rely on Public Works managers to recommend effective use of remaining local, state and federal funds for roads. This could delay some construction and/or maintenance previously planned for this biennium.

Development Engineering: Improve cost recovery for fee-eligible services provided through the Public Works department by raising fees an estimated $876,000 overall.

Motor Vehicle Fuel Budget: Reduce budget by $500,000 to recognize savings already achieved, due to prices lower than expected in 2009 so far.

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