Budget cycle looming for Douglas County commissioners | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Budget cycle looming for Douglas County commissioners

Kurt Hildebrand
khildebrand@recordcourier.com

While economic indicators appear to be in the green, outgoing County Commissioner Nancy McDermid had a word of warning for the board preparing for this spring’s budget cycle.

“I’m sure your staff will tell you we’re going into legislative session, and depending on how it goes, everything you are doing may change,” she said. “We really don’t know how things are going to come out of that Legislature.”

The past year saw assessed valuation crack $3 billion for the first time since the Great Recession.

Residential home sales across the county were estimated to exceed 1,174 during the year while the median price hit $400,000 for the first time in a decade.

According to the county, 2018-19 actual budget revenue hit $70 million.

Most sources of revenue are expected to remain the same or up slightly next year.

One of the biggest changes this year will be how the county puts together its budget, according to Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby.

Rather than rely on priority-based budgeting, budget officials are suggesting a hybrid approach that combines looking at service levels and using statistics to determine outcomes.

Assumptions going into the next budget cycle include a 2 percent cost of living adjustment covered under the county’s labor agreements with its associations.

Budget officials will also be looking at departments with high turnover to account for vacancies during the year, budgeting 2 percent of total gross salary and benefits.

The county is also preparing for an increase in PERS from 1.25 percent to 2 percent for a net cost about $200,000.

The state of the county will be held sometime in January.

Final budget adoption is May 20, which is a few weeks before the Legislature typically adjourns.

“The budget is not just about the numbers,” Willoughby said. “It is a financial plan for resources that sets policy for the county.”