The Board of County Commissioners has formally adopted Deschutes County’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget. The action followed a series of public meetings and hearings by the County’s budget committee in late May.
The newly adopted budget for the County and six service districts totals $508,217,831, which includes property taxes, dedicated state and federal funds, grants, fees for service and other revenue sources.
“The County’s budget reflects the reality of COVID-19’s impacts and, at the same time, positions us to be able to continue to provide quality services,” said Deschutes County Chair Patti Adair. “We’re moving forward into next year cautiously, as it is too soon to know the complete impact that COVID-19 will have on State revenue and the associated impacts for some County departments.”
Deschutes County has five property tax levies that it uses to fund County services. The budget committee voted to leave the County’s current permanent property tax rate (1.2183 per $1,000 of assessed value) in place for FY 2021. There are also no changes in the Countywide Law Enforcement District tax rate, Rural Law Enforcement District rate or for property tax rates that are used to fund the Extension/4-H District and the Deschutes 9-1-1 Service District.
In light of the financial uncertainty related to the impacts of COVID-19, as well as unknowns related to State funding in FY 2021, the budget committee voted to reduce staffing by 1.5 percent. On Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners voted to cut a total of 5.75 vacant positions, which impacted Community Development, Facilities, Fair & Expo, Health Services and Solid Waste. Although the positions were not deemed critical to fill at this time, the Board may consider restoring them later if there is a demonstrated need and funding is available. Moving forward, the Board will analyze the impacts of additional reductions. It is likely that additional reductions will also come from vacant positions.
Immediate COVID-19 impacts have been felt at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center due to event cancellations. The Budget Committee voted to balance the current year Fair & Expo Center budget with a mix of Transient Room Tax (TRT) and Fair & Expo reserves and to invest additional TRT reserve funding to help offset potential event-related losses at the Expo Center in FY 2021.
The budget committee also approved increased funding for Deschutes County Health Services to help support COVID-19 response and community need. Additional funding will help support Environmental Health, which is working to help County businesses reopen safely and follow State COVID-19 guidelines, and additional staff who will support COVID-19 case investigations and response.
The FY 2020-21 budget includes several new initiatives, including:
- Operational support for the Crisis Stabilization Center in Bend. The new facility will help address the needs of citizens in mental health crises who have been referred to law enforcement. The Health Services Department received $1,200,000 in grant funding to use for the construction of a facility, as well as operational support from the Sheriff’s Office, Central Oregon Health Council, City of Bend and others.
- The Deschutes County Road Department is proposing to spend $15.2 million on capital projects, including building two roundabouts along the Old Bend-Redmond Highway corridor and re-constructing NE 17th Street in NE Redmond.
- The Department of Solid Waste plans to spend $6.1 million to modernize the Negus Transfer Station in Redmond.
To review budget documents and other related content, please visit deschutes.org/budget.