County Briefed on Budget Reductions & Options for Increasing Revenues

The Mason County Commission was updated on reductions to the 2017 budget and discussed ideas for increasing revenues Monday.

The County’s Budget Manager, Jenifer Sliva, provided the Commissioners with an update on what is proposed to be cut from the current budget as submitted by department heads and elected officials on July 12th.

Click on chart to enlarge

Many departments matched their amount to cut with the amount suggested by the Commission earlier this month while others reduced their cuts.

Among those to match the cuts were WSU Extension ($20,941), Assessor ($97,849), Auditor ($101,491), Superior Court ($60,954) and Health Transfer ($30,718).

The Clerk’s Office discovered they will be adding nearly $23,000 in revenue so that department’s cut went from $66,760 to $43,876.

Support Services, which includes Department of Emergency Management, Human Resources, Risk Management, Parks, Facilities, Commission, Central Services and IT, increased their proposed reduction by over $41,000 – from $318,552 to $360,176.

The proposal still has the Sheriff’s Office with the largest cut but that is down from the nearly $900,000 ($898,384) to $660,807.

Other departments’ reduction amounts:
District Court $11,355 down from the proposed cut of $58,461
Juvenile $69,516 down from the proposed cut of $121,489
Prosecutor $89,239 down from the proposed cut of $116,192
Coroner $14,069 down from the proposed cut of $22,683
Superior Court $54,000 down from the proposed cut of $66,800

In total, the cuts to the 2017 current expense budget are now just over $1.6 Million ($1,614,991); $400,000 short of the $2 Million the Commission was looking to cut. Official action and a public hearing on the proposed cuts is scheduled for 9:30 AM tomorrow, Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

County Looking at Property Tax Increase

After the update on budget cuts, the Commission then discussed their options for increasing revenue into the County to counter a projected 8.5 percent reduction in taxes in the next few years. Those options include property tax levy lid lift, road levy shift, criminal justice levy and a sales tax increase for criminal justice. (The levy lid lift, criminal justice levy and a sales tax increase would need voter approval.)

After their discussion, the Commissioners appear to be leaning towards a multi-year property tax levy lid lift or a criminal justice levy (which is similar to an EMS levy). No decision has been made but the Commission will discuss the issue again next Monday.
The Commissioners didn’t come to a consensus on when to ask voters. That question will also be discussed next Monday.

If the Commission wants to get a measure on the November ballot, they will need to get a resolution to the Auditor’s Office by August 1st.