County Commissioners adopt $311.2 Million 2019-2021 Budget
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
The Benton County Board of Commissioners voted on June 18, 2019 to approve (3-0) a budget in the aggregate amount of $311,150,549, and approve the maximum tax rate of $2.2052 per $1,000 of assessed value for the 2019-2021 biennium.
The Benton County Budget Committee heard budget presentations over eight sessions beginning on April 17, 2019 and approved the 2019-21 biennium budget Wednesday, May 29, 2019. The Board of Commissioners adoption of the budget on June 18, 2019 concludes the budgeting process.
The last three biennia (2013-15, 2015-17 and 2017-19) was a period of relative fiscal stability for Benton County. The County will be challenged by this budget, and the 2021-23 budget, to maintain current services levels, let alone fund expansion to keep pace with population increases and other demands.
The property tax from the permanent and local option levy provide about 88% of the discretionary revenue. The second largest source of discretionary revenue is the surcharge on tonnage delivered to the Coffin Butte landfill. New sources of revenue in the 2019-2021 budget are:
- Highway Apportionment Funding – State House Bill 2017 increased gas taxes and vehicle registration fees statewide. Benton County is projecting revenue increases of $500,000 to $1,000,000 per biennium through the 2025-27 biennium. This revenue is dedicated to the Road Fund.
- Public Transportation Funding – State House Bill 2017 imposed a one tenth of 1% payroll tax on wages statewide. Benton County has projected that we will receive $640,000 in the biennium. This revenue is dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund, i.e., Dial-a-Bus.
- Transient Lodging Tax – This is a 3% tax on transient lodging located within Benton County. 70% of the tax received must be used to fund tourism-related facilities and tourism promotion activities. This will likely be utilized on Fairgrounds improvements that are identified in the master plan. 30% of the tax can be used for any purpose.
Major elements of the adopted budget include:
- Despite new revenue sources, the adopted budget was unable to match General Fund current revenue to current expense. Approximately $2.3 million of reserves were required to balance the General and Local Option Levy Funds.
- The adopted budget allocates $5 million to a State of Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) side account to reduce future PERS pension rates. By depositing this amount, the future rate increase is projected to decrease by 1.22% each biennium.
- Our recommended reserve level is 24% of the combined General Funds annual operating budget (or 12% of biennia operating budget). The adopted budget exceeds this goal and reserves an additional $4M to offset the known increase in PERS rates in the 2021-23 biennium.
- The adopted budget allocates nearly $2M for implementing the recommended next steps identified in the Criminal Justice System Assessment Final Report.
- The adopted budget maintains the expansion of primary care, behavioral health and dental services begun in prior biennia.
- The Assessment Division is implementing a mobile assessment application that will increase efficiency and streamline processes.
- The Community Development Department will now be responsible for the county’s solid waste management program.
- The District Attorney’s office proposed a Criminal Media Division that will handle, review and store video from law enforcement body cameras and production of grand jury recordation as mandated by state statute beginning July 1, 2019.
- The Sheriff’s Office is developing a pre-trial program, a recommended investment identified in the Criminal Justice System Assessment Final Report.
- The Health Center’s reliance on General Fund support decreased by $400,000. That reduced reliance on general revenues to be shifted to other departments. This budget projects an increase to the Health Center’s reserves. The Health Center maintained revenue levels at or above prior years during the remodel project and with the completion of the remodel project, revenues are expected to increase in 2019-21.
- Public Works’ adopted budget reflects the county’s new Fleet Services methodology. The new methodology systematically charges departments for fleet services, both regular maintenance and replacement costs. This same methodology will be used to charge the county’s external fleet customers.
These are just a few high-level elements of the adopted budget.. The complete proposed budget document, plus a summary of changes from the proposed to the adopted budget is available on the County website at: http://bit.ly/BentonGov-2019-21Budget. The complete adopted budget document will be available in late August.