2021-22 County Proposed Budget

For Immediate Release: Monday, May 03, 2021

Sponsored by: County Administrative Office

Proposal released for $1.4 billion county budget

Washington County Proposed Budget Summary FY 2021-22

Washington County’s proposed $1.4 billion total budget is now available online for public review and comment. The spending plan, the second county budget proposed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, represents a slight decline in discretionary spending when compared to the prior fiscal year. 

The proposed budget signifies a decrease by $137.6 million, or 11%, below the 2020-21 modified budget. The overall decrease is largely explained by the one-time use of $104.6 million in federal relief funds spent in the current fiscal year. Expenditures anticipated from the county’s general fund would shrink by $418,726 representing essentially flat growth given the general fund’s $333.6 million size. The general fund represents the portion of the budget over which the Board of Commissioners has the most discretionary spending authority. 

“The proposed budget submitted today seeks to balance meeting urgent needs now and meeting enduring service needs more sustainably in the future,” wrote County Administrator Tanya Ange in the budget document’s introduction. “How well we strike this balance will depend in no small part on how well we distinguish and carefully use one-time resources along with those resources our constrained revenue system can produce over time.” 

Revenues from property and other taxes supporting the general fund increased by 4% compared with the modified budget from the 2020-21 fiscal year. This single revenue category, which is constrained in its growth through provisions in the Oregon Constitution, supports 57% of the county’s general fund. 

The proposed budget document includes reflections on the arrival of new federal aid, the eventual decreasing impact of the pandemic and the associated recovery of the economy. Prudent use of additional one-time federal aid, expected later this year, was a consideration in the analysis provided in the proposed budget document.

“Knowing that these more favorable conditions may soon be here, the county will need to make careful choices about committing a new round of one-time funds from the American Rescue Plan, especially when the policy objective may be to address an ongoing community need as well as stark and pervasive racial inequities laid bare by the pandemic,” Ange wrote. “Determining whether one-time funds should pay for what our ongoing revenue framework arguably ought to will be a critical policy discussion in the coming months.”

Priorities Beyond Pandemic Response
In addition to supporting pandemic response and maintaining services throughout the organization, the proposed budget seeks to invest in several priority areas identified by the Board of County Commissioners, including:

  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – In addition to the appointment of the county’s first chief equity and inclusion officer seven months ago, the proposed budget would continue funding for five additional positions to support the work of the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement as called for in a board resolution adopted in February 2020. Among other goals, the new program is charged with developing a robust plan and organizational capability to foster, support and strengthen equity and inclusion in the county’s programs, practices and policies.
  • Affordable Housing and Homelessness – Two voter-approved, regional funding measures are supporting the county’s expansion of housing supply and services. The county recently released $80 million in funding to developers from the regional Affordable Housing Bond program to create 814 new affordable housing units. In addition, 18 new positions paid for through funding from the regional Supportive Housing Services program are part of the proposed budget. The proposed budget also includes the third of five years in annual $4 million investments from the general fund to expand the affordable housing supply.
  • Economic Development – The proposed budget anticipates the creation and implementation of an economic development program guided by a newly appointed economic development manager. The county effort is expected to help build wealth in historically marginalized communities and focus on unincorporated Washington County and its smaller cities, recognizing that larger cities have their own economic development staff. The proposed budget includes $500,000 for pre-apprenticeship training programs delivered through Worksystems, Inc., a nonprofit using a racial equity framework to help connect participants to careers in the construction industry. 
  • Transportation – The proposed budget notes that significant transportation improvements envisioned through the “Get Moving 2020” regional funding measure remain to be addressed, given the measure’s limited voter support at the ballot box this past November. Nonetheless, continued improvements are outlined in the proposed budget through property-tax-supported programs such as the Major Streets Transportation Program (MSTIP). With respect to maintenance, the budget speaks to how increased fuel tax rates and registration fees at the state and county levels have been offset somewhat by a decline in fuel consumption and vehicle purchases. These revenue sources – that support countywide road maintenance – are expected to turn around as vaccinations and public health restrictions ease the impact of the pandemic. Property taxes collected in the urban unincorporated area continue to support road maintenance in that part of the county through the Urban Road Maintenance District.
  • Public Safety – The proposed budget increases the general fund support to the Department of Community Corrections by roughly $500,000 in order to maintain the current service level for supervision in misdemeanor cases. The budget document notes that this proposed one-time solution will not resolve the issue of chronic state underfunding, an issue the county intends to continue to highlight with the Legislature as the state finalizes its biennial budget later this year. The proposed budget also reflects funding that continues from the current fiscal year for the body-worn camera program in the Sheriff’s Office, a decision made by the Board of County Commissioners in December 2020 after convening multiple community listening sessions. Deployment of the cameras by the Sheriff’s Office and by other municipal police agencies is anticipated to have a financial impact on other parts of the public safety system. 
  • Capital Investments Supporting County Systems — Several multi-year upgrades of key facilities and technological systems are addressed in the proposed budget through capital spending from a variety of revenue sources. Facilities planning includes an early assessment for establishing an addictions triage center and technology system upgrades include the re-building the county’s website  and replacing its main payroll and human resources tool.

In addition to the Washington County Budget Committee, four additional budget committees will be convening to focus on specific services provided in the urban unincorporated areas of Washington County, including the Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District (ESPD), North Bethany County Service District for Roads (North Bethany CSDR), the Urban Road Maintenance District (URMD) and the Washington County Service District for Lighting No. 1 (SDL No. 1).

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in this year’s budget process in a variety of ways: 

  • Review the Fiscal Year 2021-22 Proposed Budget Summary and submit questions or comments to finance_budget@co.washington.or.us
  • Virtually attend any or all budget meetings and hearings scheduled in the month of May
  • Meetings will also be live-streamed from the County’s YouTube channel.
  • Dates and times for these budget meetings include: 
    • Thursday, May 13, 2021 – 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM — County Budget and SDL No. 1 Budget Committee meetings 
    • Monday, May 17, 2021 – 5:30 PM to 6:20 PM – North Bethany CSDR Budget Committee meeting
    • Monday, May 17, 2021 – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM – ESPD and URMD Budget Committee meetings
    • Wednesday, May 26, 2021 – 5:30 PM to 6:20 PM – North Bethany County Service District for Roads Budget Committee Public Hearing with public testimony at 5:50 p.m.
    • Wednesday, May 26, 2021 – 6:30 PM to 7:20 PM. – ESPD and URMD Budget Committees Public Hearing with public testimony at 6:50 p.m.
    • Wednesday, May 26, 2021 – 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM — County Budget Public Hearing with public testimony at 8 p.m.

Over 2,300 dedicated County employees work in pursuit of Washington County’s mission to provide excellent and cost-effective services that support healthy, peaceful, safe and sustainable communities; and encourage meaningful participation in community activities and county governance. 

Media Contact:

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer