Douglas County OKs $61 million tentative budget |

Douglas County OKs $61 million tentative budget

Kurt Hildebrand / The Record-Courier

A $61.8 million general fund tentative budget was approved by Douglas County commissioners on Thursday after they wrapped up their third day of hearings.

According to the county, the general fund revenue is $62 million.

Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby said that the budget, which covers the 2023-24 fiscal year includes around nine new positions, some of which have already been approved.

State law requires that local governments submit a balanced final budget by May 17.

“The general fund is the most important in the county,” Willoughby told commissioners on Tuesday. “It is the chief operating fund in Douglas County.”

The general fund supplies money to operate the county’s law enforcement and courts, administrative functions of the constitutional officers, and community development.

There are about 580 positions in the county, though there are vacancies in several departments.

Under the tentative budget that will increase to 589.33.

Willoughby said that unlike a business, the county does several things that aren’t profitable.

She likened the overall budget as a collection of different buckets, some of which are established for specific purposes.

Revenue for the entire budget during the current fiscal year was $133.4 million without reserves, 46% of which came from taxes, with another 20% coming from the state from sales and sin tax collections and 18% from charges for services.

Property tax accounts for the largest single source of revenue for the county, providing 58% of the general fund. That comes from $1.168 per $100 assessed valuation. Of that 87.61 cents is devoted to the general fund. In Nevada, property taxes are based on 35% of value. At the beginning of the year, Douglas County’s total assessed value was just over $4 billion.

New this year, Douglas County expects to receive $16. 8 million from the state, mostly from sales tax generated by county residents. Until Ju-ly 1, 2022, the county received a guaranteed amount of money from the state based on its population.

Willoughby said the change will generate an additional $1 million.

By the same token, if Douglas were to experience a serious downturn, the county has revived an economic stabilization fund to cover short-falls in revenue or to mitigate an emergency or disaster.

The county also receives a portion of the half-cent cigarette tax and the 50 cents per gallon of liquor containing more than 22% alcohol.

“These numbers are straight from state law,” Willoughby said. “I am not making them up.”

Many of the county’s departments are funded through room tax, which is projected to increase another $2 million to $22.5 million in the coming budget year.

On the expenditure side, 88.6% of the county’s budget goes to salaries and employee benefits, with services and supplies accounting for 5.4%.

Several questions remain after the approval of the budget, including the results of negotiations with county associations.

“We don’t know the outcome of labor negotiations,” Willougby said.

Commissioners approved nine positions sought by the county, including two drivers for the Douglas Area Rural Transit bus, changing a half-time to a full-time homemaker, a lead building inspector, two full-time juvenile detention positions, office specialists for Animal Services and the Juvenile Probation Office, and a full-time deputy clerk.

A new emergency manager has been hired to take over that function from East Fork Fire Protection District.

Willoughby withdrew her request for a finance specialist, pointing out that she didn’t have anyplace for the person to sit.

“The departments did a good job of only submitting personnel requests they needed and could justify,” Willoughby said.

With the approval of the budget and supplemental, there’s a net available surplus of $1.811 million.

“You’re not approving an expenditure, you’re just approving a budget,” she said.

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