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Jackson County proposes $573.8 million budget

Jackson County Health and Human Services would add dozens of workers under a proposed county budget. [Mail Tribune / file photo]
Reserve funds grow to $209.1 million

Jackson County is continuing to increase its financial strength and stockpile money with a proposed $573.8 million annual budget that includes $209.1 million in reserves.

The proposal for the coming fiscal year that starts in July compares to the current fiscal year budget of $474 million with $190.8 million in reserves.

In government accounting, governments have to add spending plus reserves to equal their budget totals.

“When we grow our savings account, it makes our budget bigger,” said Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan.

He said the county is in a strong financial condition.

“We’re really fortunate that we have a good reserve,” Jordan said.

With strong reserves, Jackson County can carry out projects without having to borrow money or ask taxpayers for more funding, he said.

The county’s already sizable savings got a big boost with $42.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the proposed budget, the Jackson County property tax rate would remain the same at $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed value. That equals $402 for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000.

Assessed values average 64% of real market values in Jackson County, Jordan said.

The proposed budget calls for a 4.13% cost-of-living raise for managers and elected leaders, who aren’t represented by unions. They would also get annual raises for gaining experience at work, unless they’ve reached the limit on raises for experience.

Compensation for workers represented by various unions will change based on negotiated contracts.

Under the proposed budget, the county’s workforce would grow from nearly 890.6 full-time equivalent workers to slightly over 938.2 full-time equivalent workers — an increase of 47.6 full-time equivalent workers.

The county’s Health and Human Services Department, which led the way on the public health response to the pandemic, would add 28.6 full-time equivalent workers. Those employees would work in administration plus public health, mental health, developmental disabilities and veterans’ services programs.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has added two deputies to help reduce overtime costs at the Jackson County Jail, plus two people to aid with enforcement against illegal marijuana operations.

Jackson County Development Services added four positions for code enforcement to deal with marijuana-related cases. It will keep running its Wildfire Resiliency Permit Center into the coming fiscal year. The center’s goal is to expedite planning and building reviews for people whose homes and businesses burned in 2020 wildfires.

The Expo has been operating with minimal staffing during the pandemic while serving as a site for mass vaccination events, distribution of COVID-19 safety supplies and sheltering of survivors from 2020 wildfires. The Expo plans to add four full-time equivalent workers as it transitions back to entertainment and community events.

Major spending includes $27 million state gas tax-funded road work and grant-supported parks projects, plus $30.3 million in airport improvements funded by state and federal grants, according to the proposed budget.

The Jackson County Budget Committee is made up of the three Jackson County commissioners plus three residents.

They will meet to review department budget details at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 12, and 9 a.m. Thursday, April 14, at the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. The public is invited to comment on the budget.

If necessary, they will continue deliberations Friday, April 15, at a time to be announced. Public testimony won’t be taken during deliberations.

The three resident members of the Budget Committee will meet to discuss raises for elected officials at noon Tuesday, April 12, in Room 214 of the county courthouse. The meeting is open to the public, but any testimony on the raises will be heard during the full Budget Committee meeting of April 14 following a presentation of the three resident members’ report on salary recommendations.

Budget Committee meetings can be viewed by going to jacksoncountyor.zoom.us/j/84940554232.

Listen by phone by calling 1-253-215-8782 and entering webinar identification number 849-4055-4232. The meetings can also be watched on RVTV Cable Channel 181, which is also streamed live via the county website at jacksoncountyor.org/County/Video-TV.

For more budget details, visit jacksoncountyor.org and click on “2022-2023 Recommended Budget.”

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