Halfway through fiscal year, county budget looking good
Halfway through the budget year, the county’s performance is looking pretty good, according to Ravalli County CFO Klarryse Murphy. She led the commissioners through a lengthy fund by fund accounting that, to sum it up, shows the county, overall, doing very well on its tax collections and showing revenues over 50% of projections in most departments while expenses have only amounted to 23% of projections due in large part to job vacancies that have yet to be filled. One big savings was in the budgeted funds for the county’s share in the Public Employees Retirement System since newly hired Commissioner Dan Huls declined to participate in the program.
One big exception in terms of expenses is the District Court. Due to a couple of very big cases, it has already expended about 93% of its projected budget. Murphy said there was a special category in the budget for these types of expenses and that’s why they are classified as “variable costs” to begin with. She said there is a reserve account designed to cover unexpected variable costs like this.
With respect to projected revenues at the 50% halfway-point, for instance, the facilities fund sits at 51% of projections, the bridge fund at 62%, Weed Control is at 56%, GIS is at 74%, Valley Veterans Service is at 52%, Comp insurance is at 53%, the Airport is at 52%. Board of Prisoners, Jail Diversion, and 911 fund revenues are all at 56% of projections. Others are hovering near the hallway-point such as Mental Health, Extension Office, and Adult Literacy, at 49%. The Old Courthouse and the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue are both at 50% of projections.
One notable department that is exceeding its revenue projections at the half-way point is the Environmental Health Department. According to Murphy, the sewer fee revenues projected at $125,000 are at the 54% mark, and with projected revenue for septic site permitting set at $55,000, the county is already at the 68% mark.
On Monday, Director of Environmental Health John Palacio said that business in the office has been growing steadily over the last decade and picking up a lot of steam in the last couple of years. In 2011, for instance, a total of 65 new septic permits were issued. Ten years later, in 2021, 407 new septic permits have been issued. Palacio said that it was a pretty steady increase until very recently when we saw a big jump from 276 permits in 2019 to 407 in 2021.
The increased workload has not been accompanied by any increase in employee numbers, however. In 2011, there were 5.875 full-time sanitarians at work in the office. Right now, there are only 4. Palacio said that they were coping with the increased workload by becoming more efficient. He attributed a lot of the efficiency changes to the department’s GIS specialist Ken Miller who has revamped the records system.
Palacio said that in 2011 his office conducted 32 subdivision reviews. In 2020 that number had jumped to 59. He said just in the last few months at least three new major subdivision applications have been submitted for review, ranging from 15 to 18 lots each. Palacio said that almost all of the development is single family residences. These numbers don’t include subdivisions being developed in any of the valley’s municipalities or within the Corvallis and Victor Sewer Districts.