Jackson County adopts healthy budget

·3 min read

Jun. 1—Jackson County commissioners unanimously approved a $573.8 million county government budget Wednesday that includes $209.1 million in reserves.

The budget for the coming fiscal year that starts in July compares with the current fiscal year budget of $474 million with $190.8 million in reserves. In government accounting, governments must add their spending plus their reserves to get a budget total.

The county's already sizable savings got a big boost with $42.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer said the county is continuing to grow its reserves while providing services and not taking on new debt. He said the county is ready to take on any economic challenges.

"If it seems ho-hum or routine, you only have to look at various government bodies throughout the state and the country to find out that's not the case," Dyer said.

Neighboring Josephine County doesn't have enough money to keep running its sheriff's office without major layoffs, and the city of Ashland is surveying its residents about service cuts to curb years of unsustainable spending. The federal government, which doesn't have to balance its budget, is trillions of dollars in debt.

Jackson County Commissioner Dave Dotterrer said the county sticks to its priorities when crafting the budget, despite pressure to spend money in less important areas.

Commissioner Colleen Roberts commended county staff for their work to develop the annual budget, virtually a year-round effort.

The county property tax rate will remain the same at $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed property tax value. That equates to $402 for a home assessed at $200,000. Assessed values average 64% of real estate market values in Jackson County.

The county government's workforce will grow from nearly 890.6 full-time equivalent workers to slightly over 938.2 full-time equivalent workers — an increase of 47.6 full-time equivalent workers.

The Health and Human Services Department will add the most people, but the sheriff's office, Development Services Department and The Expo are among the departments gaining new workers.

The budget includes a 4.13% cost-of-living raise for managers and elected leaders, who aren't represented by unions. They also get annual raises for gaining experience at work, unless they've reached the limit on raises for experience.

Due to repeated errors in his office, Jackson County Tax Assessor Dave Arrasmith is getting the cost-of-living raise, but the Jackson County Budget Committee knocked him down a pay grade instead of letting him advance to the next step on his position's pay ladder. He'll still earn a $123,884.80 salary once the cost-of-living raise kicks in this summer.

Compensation for county workers represented by various unions will change based on negotiated contracts.

Major spending includes $27 million in road work paid with state gas taxes, plus $30.3 million in airport improvements funded by state and federal grants.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.