Tuesday, February 22, 2011
POLK COUNTY -- The good news from the state's recent first-quarter revenue forecast was that schools and state agencies shouldn't have to cut current budgets before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
That same report, released last week by the Office of Economic Analysis, however, said that Oregon can expect to collect $110 million less in income taxes and lottery revenue than projected before.
That means the difficult prospects government officials were expecting with respect to the 2011-13 budget are still dismal.
Polk County Administrator Greg Hansen said the county is looking at $1.5 million to $1.8 million in reductions to its general fund based upon the $14.8 billion state budget proposed by Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month.
State lawmakers will use the March figure as the foundation for the 2011-13 budget, though another forecast will take place in May. State revenue for the next biennium is currently projected at $14.9 billion.
"Our budget will fluctuate based on what the Legislature does," Hansen said.
Public safety and other departments will see cuts, though it's uncertain at what level, Hansen said, noting the county does have $2 million in reserves it can draw from.
Western Oregon University expects the annual appropriation it receives from the state to be close to $15 million, compared to the more than $18 million approved two years ago.
Decisions from the legislative session and contract bargaining with the school's faculty and unclassified unions will shape WOU's budget, said Mark Weiss, Western's vice president for finance and administration.
Asked if cuts were forthcoming, Weiss said: "There's no promises in this economic environment."
Dallas School District is looking at a shortfall of $3.5 million if the $5.59 billion education appropriation in Kitzhaber's budget proceeds.
The deficit would be $2.7 million if school funding remains flat at $5.8 billion, said Tami Montague, Dallas business manager.
"We were disappointed that the forecast wasn't more optimistic," Montague said. "But we weren't surprised."
The district's expenditures next year are projected at about $25 million, she said. The state school fund forecast will be released on March 1.
Other items of note in the 2011-13 forecast included reduction of personal and corporate income tax projections from a forecast in December, and employment rate increases of 1.4 percent this year and 2 percent in 2012.