Deschutes County commissioners on Monday adopted a $306 million budget for fiscal year 2015, with Commissioner Tony DeBone acting as the board’s lone dissenter in a 2-1 vote.
Amid the depths of the economic downturn between 2007 and 2012, annual revenue into the county dropped by 22 percent, and services were cut as a result. County Administrator Tom Anderson characterized the budget approved Monday as the second in a row aimed at restoring services to where they were before the recession began. With continued progress in new construction and rising property values, the new budget reflects a 6 percent increase over the current budget.
“Even though we are in better financial times than we have seen in past years and revenue is up across the board, the board and budget committee did not add a lot of services,” Anderson said. “This is more of a project of restoration.”
DeBone saw the improving economy as an opportunity for the county to lower taxes while still providing the same services.
“We could have done everything proposed in this budget with $1 million less,” he said, noting that his suggestion was minor and amounted to “a pizza a year” in terms of savings per property owner.
That pizza worth of savings — about $10 to $15 — would have come through a minor reduction in the permanent tax rate, a change that would have only been felt in the county’s general fund balance without affecting any services or staff members, DeBone said.
Anderson said the growth in this year’s budget allowed the county to take on projects it “did not have the luxury to propose in past budgets.” Among the projects singled out by Anderson are an expansion of the county jail, funded through a full faith and credit bond approved last year, and work on the intersection of the Powell Butte and Neff roads.
Right before adopting the 2015 budget, the county received an award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its preparation of the current budget. The county also received an award for excellence in financial reporting.
Jeff White, the organization’s Oregon representative and chief financial officer for Marion County, praised the county’s financial team, noting how rigorous the organization’s standards are in terms of evaluating transparency and accuracy, and adding Deschutes County “clearly made the grade.”
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