Strong growth in new construction means the state will allow a 2 percent hike in the county's operating-fund tax levy, which means an extra
A person with a home with an equalized property value of
"I think it's very good news for the public," O'Malley said. "Overall, the public should be very pleased."
The proposed 2018 budget calls for
The county levy is projected to go up 2 percent, rising from almost
This is O'Malley's 15th
One big problem this year is that the jail ate up almost all of the
Next year, the county can't count on any inmate boarding income, and, in fact, has budgeted
Since the budget was initially put together, O'Malley said, the jail population has stabilized. "We're not looking at a crisis for now," he said.
That's the thing about budgets, O'Malley said. Things always change.
"Every budget is wrong by the time you adopt it," he said. "There are just so many moving parts in a budget."
The difficulty this year was finding places to cut to make up for the jail issues and to allow for a 1.5 percent across-the-board pay increase for county employees.
Elimination of the county's "nuisance" mosquito abatement program is one spending cut that could generate discussion at the public hearing and during the ensuing board debate. The budget includes
A handful of other possible hot budget topics include the following:
"Locally, as a community, we have very little in the way of prevention activities," Cable said, noting that getting homeless people back in housing is an estimated three times as expensive as taking preventive steps to keep them in their homes. "The idea is to infuse the system with enough money to flip the switch on how we use our crisis dollars."
There is no plan yet on how the money would be spent and who would be making the decisions on how to spend the money. What Cable is asking her fellow county board members to do is build
The money would come from the county's unassigned fund balance. The county board policy is to have a fund balance of 25 to 50 percent of total county spending. Last year it was at 57 percent, and that has risen to 58.5 percent.
O'Malley has been a strong advocate for keeping a high fund balance because it helps the county maximize its bond rating, which means lower costs for borrowing, and because of so much uncertainty about whether money the federal and state government have promised the county will come through. Having a high fund balance "protects the organization against massive changes," he said.
Even given his preference to keep a higher fund balance, O'Malley said Cable's proposal makes sense because it would likely save the county money in other areas, such as medical treatment costs, law enforcement and imprisonment, mental health treatment and more.
"The issue with homelessness is that it's something that affects us in so many ways budgetarily that are under the radar," O'Malley said.
Cable's idea got nearly unanimous support from the county board's Executive Committee and Health and Human Services Board.
"This investment will pay back, probably in spades," said board member
Only one board member on those two committees,
Most county fees are staying put in the 2018 budget, but a major increase is in the works for "after-the-fact" permit fees. Right now, the county charges double the usual fee for permits that are retroactively issued. For example, when people starts running a business out of a garage that would require a conditional-use permit before obtaining that permit, they now pay double to apply for that permit.
Board members will debate increasing that to triple the normal charge, a move prompted by a recent case in which a property owner's obvious disregard for getting the required permits rankled many board members.
Some board members have expressed hesitancy to punish the people who don't know just to have a harsher penalty for blatant violators. But board member
The county budget includes
Some board members are unhappy that the chamber took an active role recently in lobbying lawmakers in
Fifty-five percent of voters last April supported the idea of the tax in an advisory referendum. The chamber, however, actively lobbied against the tax during the recent
"There should be some kind of a statement that we're not happy with them," said Holtze, who said he has a long history of Chamber involvement. "They're too reactionary for my thinking. I'm done with them."
While the Chamber voted against the county's interests, board member
Hampson was the only member of the Executive Committee to oppose pulling the Chamber's funding.
County board pay
The full county board is up for re-election in April, and they might end up getting slightly more pay for their efforts if they get re-elected.
County board members have not had a pay increase since 2013 (2009 in the case of the chair), with the current monthly pay set at
Board members will consider a resolution that would increase that pay by 1.5 percent, which would mean
Board members used to get health care insurance benefits for their service as well, but it has been years since that was the case, and they are not eligible for retirement benefits based on their service.
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