Higher fees could plug county budget gap
Shelton-Mason County Journal
November 21, 2002
Mason County Commissioners are looking at a proposed current expense budget of $22.97 million for 2003. That represents an increase of 6.9% over the amended budget for 2002, according to figures provided by the county.
While the proposed operating budget is higher the proposed total 2003 budget is down 8.5% from the 2002 total of $66,234,201. "The primary reason for that is that in 2002 the budget included over $10 million in construction for the Allyn sewer project," Mason County Administrator Ron Henrickson explained.
The spending plan comes at a time when the county is feeling a budgetary crunch. "Mason County, similar to the state and other governmental jurisdictions, is facing difficult financial times," Henrickson stated in a press release. "Demands for services and the normal cost of doing business continue to rise, while revenues lag behind."
Henrickson said there is a gap between service needs and the county's ability to provide such services within the funding available. "To address the gap in 2003 between available revenue and the cost of providing services, the county has reduced expenditures in areas, implemented new ways to be more efficient and increased fees for services," he added. "In addition to these measures, the county will use funds accumulated from prior years to balance the budget."
At this time, the county does not anticipate a hiring freeze, Henrickson said. In fact, the county plans to hire additional staff, including another building inspector as well as a community planner. "Essentially, they're budget-neutral in the sense that if you raise the fee, they're being paid for," he said.
The proposed budget calls for an increase in selected user fees. "There is a correlation and a relationship between the user fees and our budget crisis," Henrickson said, adding that higher fees will "make the people who receive the services pay the cost of covering the services, so the burden doesn't fall on the general taxpayer."
© Shelton-Mason County Journal
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]