BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's Budget Committee has about $456 million to work with for the next fiscal year, $204 million of that in the operating budget. The committee is meeting this week to work through a proposed budget; they're expected to vote on it, Friday.
County Administrator Tom Anderson says there's one big new item in the budget, "We have a new initiative that we're talking through this week, regarding a Crisis Stabilization Center. It's a partnership between the health department and the Sheriff's Office, for a place where individuals undergoing a mental health crisis can be taken en lieu of the Emergency Room at the hospital or the jail." They're also looking at capital projects made possible by the state transportation package and infrastructure improvements already in the county's five-year plan.
Anderson tells KBND News revenue is high, which means more ideas can be pursued, As people come here, new properties develop, the overall valuation of properties in the county has increased. So, despite a reduction in the tax rate last year, property taxes, nevertheless, are on the increase, just due to the increase in valuation - both on existing and new projects going on in the county."
He says the budget holds the line, with no major increases or deficits, "We're in a healthy position right now, so we're not in a situation where we having to rob Peter to pay Paul in terms of balancing the budget. Really, it's a matter of how much can we afford to pay for the increases? How much can we strategically put into reserves for future burdens, balanced against what we believe is the appropriate property tax rate to charge to the citizens?"
This week's budget meetings are open to the public, however outside comment will not be accepted until the public hearing, scheduled for June 18. Once it's finalized, it will take effect July first.