Political “HOT budget TOPICs”
April 19, 2018
Here’s the truth
I’ve read several back-and-forths regarding budget comparison numbers. For some reason this is a much hotter issue this year than I’ve seen before. Let me address some of the issues.
This year’s approved budget was $8,799,201 less than the prior year’s final budget. Yes, these are two different starting points in time relative to the budget year, however that is what those numbers are based on. If we compare 2017 final budget to this year’s current 2018 budget (the closest time-based comparison possible) the number is more like $6.9 million. The difference is about $1.9M less due mostly to unfinished projects in the prior year being carried forward to this current year.
Budgets will inevitably grow throughout the course of the year due to receipt of unanticipated revenue. At the end of the year, I expect, given no unforeseen extraordinary circumstances that this current year’s budget will end up roughly $6 to $6.5 million below the prior year’s final budget, which would be the “apples to apples” number.
There was no “found” $9.6 million dollars. It was always reported in our annual external audits and in our own internal Joint Treasurer/ Auditor reports. It was always invested and reported properly by our county Treasurer, as were/are all the county’s funds.
We don’t “spend” every dime the county takes in. What the budget does is authorize a ceiling amount to be available to be spent. There is a significant difference. Every year that I’ve been here we’ve under-spent our total county budget.
We have no “unanticipated revenue” in the form of grants, as we pre-plan for up to $6M in grants every year. Receipt of grants does not increase the budget as it is fully “anticipated.”
SRS funds are budgeted for, however the difference between what we budget for and what we actually receive is “unanticipated”. This number is, unfortunately, never as much as we would hope for, but the marginal difference does increase the budget assuming it is positive.
The current Board of County Commissioners saw that the current financial trajectory was leading the county to a hard landing, and has responded aggressively to keep the county fiscally sound long-term. Even with their efforts, the county will likely need to take the authorized 3% increase in tax receipts every year into the foreseeable future due to legacy commitments of departments, projects, cost inflation, etc.
Nearly 46% of my own property taxes go to the county, and I, too, would love to see it even lower.
Michael W. Rosedale
Bonner County Clerk