County reserves show prudent management
Jackson County is emerging from the pandemic on a solid financial footing, thanks to prudent management by the Board of Commissioners and County Administrator Danny Jordan. But county residents deserve some of the credit as well.
The commissioners have adopted a $474 million budget for the next fiscal year, up from $429.8 million for the year that ends June 30. That’s not particularly remarkable — budgets tend to grow over time. What is remarkable is the state of the county’s reserves, contingency funds and ending fund balances.
That total stands at $190.1 million, an increase from $173.6 million in the current budget.
County officials have been carefully sheltering money in reserves for a number of years, starting well before the current commissioners took office. Much of that is the result of Jordan’s financial guidance, investing in building projects that resulted in income for the county. But Jackson County voters should take a bow as well.
In 2007, the county shuttered its libraries because there was not enough money to operate them, then reopened them under the management of an out-of-state corporation to save operating costs. Seven years later, Jackson County voters created a taxing district to support the library system separate from the county’s general fund. Voters also approved a taxing district to support the Extension Service. And county residents have supported Rogue Community College and the Rogue Valley Transportation District as well.
So when you read about Jackson County’s property tax rate of $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed value, understand that it represents only the share of property taxes that go to support county government. Schools, libraries, rural fire districts, the Extension Service, RVTD and other entities receive their own levies, which add to the total tax burden for county property owners.
Jackson County residents benefit from a wide range of services, operated in an efficient manner. Western Oregon counties that in the past relied on timber harvest revenue to support public services have seen that income dwindle as logging declined. Jackson County has done a better job than most in coping with that lost revenue.