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Commissioners approve $474 million county budget

Financial reserves grow to $190.1 million
County OfficesMail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Jackson County commissioners unanimously approved a $474 million county government budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The budget includes $190.1 million in reserves, contingency funds and ending fund balances ― putting the county on strong financial footing despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 wildfires.

The county’s rainy day funds grew from $173.6 million in the adopted budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The adopted budget for the current fiscal year is $429.8 million.

Governments must include spending plus financial reserves in their budget totals.

“It is a remarkable year and a remarkable budget,” said Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer.

With its growing reserves, he said, the county is in a strong and resilient financial position.

Commissioner Colleen Roberts said the county didn’t hear objections from the public about the budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.

"The Budget Committee worked pretty hard, and the staff provided a template for a balanced budget,“ she said.

Commissioner Dave Dotterrer said, “A great budget like this is a reflection on good governance practices and procedures by our department heads and administration."

The county’s property tax rate of $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed value will remain the same.

Jackson County has turned around its finances since 2007, when the county shuttered libraries and made other cuts to deal with a dropoff in shared revenue from logging on federal lands.

Some county departments including parks, The Expo and the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport are expected to act like businesses and generate money off user fees and grants. Voters approved a library district that funds libraries through its own property tax, taking the burden off Jackson County’s government.

The county could face major expenses in the future, including from a controversial proposal to build a new jail. In May 2020, voters rejected a new jail tax that would have helped fund construction and increased operating costs for a larger jail. Jackson County had offered to pitch in $66 million from its financial reserves.

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