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Construction projects, including one for improvements at the Polk County Courthouse, are proposed in the county’s 2019-20 budget.

DALLAS — The Polk County Budget Committee gave tentative approval to the 2019-20 budget last week following two days of hearings from each department.

The grand total for the county is $95.2 million, including $16 million in construction projects at the Public Works Department facility, the courthouse complex, and the Academy Building that have not been approved yet. The total budget includes 10.7 new positions.

In the general fund — the fund which pays for the assessor, county clerk, treasurer, community development, district attorney, sheriff, community corrections and community service departments — the proposal is $27.1 million, an increase of $1.3 million over the current year’s budget.

“I call this year’s budget kind of a moderate growth budget, adding some FTE (full-time equivalent positions) in certain locations,” said Greg Hansen, county administrator. “We have a couple of construction projects that I put in the budget that may or may not move forward, but I put them in the budget as basically a placeholder for them, so if we decided to move on them, there would appropriations.”

The district attorney would add a support staff position. The sheriff’s department would add two in its patrol division, and community corrections would add one position. The Polk County Jail would lose one position and victim’s assistance staffing would decrease by 0.75 of a position.

Hansen wrote the budget to include revenue from the reauthorization of the county public safety levy, which is on May’s ballot. The county is seeking reauthorization one year early so if it doesn’t pass, the current levy still has one more year. 

He said the staffing additions in the DA and sheriff’s departments would be in question if voters reject the levy.

Hansen said other county budget funds see increases in the 2019-20 proposal.

“Public Works has revenue increases due to gas tax. Behavioral Health funding is more than adequate at this time period,” Hansen said.

He said Behavioral Health may have some uncertainty due to the upcoming change in the coordinated care organization, which provides health care to low income individuals.

“The one we’ve had in place for five years is no longer going to be the one at the after the end of the calendar year,” Hansen said.

He said three entities submitted applications to serve Polk, Marion, Yamhill counties. Final applications are due to Oregon Health Authority on April 22.

“Their (Behavioral Health) funding, even though it’s somewhat an unknown, they have adequate reserves to bridge any transition gap,” Hansen said. “They are going to be fine.”

Hansen said the rest of the budget remains steady.

“All the other funds are status quo. Probably our biggest question mark in the general fund for funding — other than the reauthorization for the levy — is community corrections funding. They’re all over the place right now at the legislature,” Hansen said. “There’s five different statewide funding numbers floating around.”

The committee will vote on formal approval May 29, after the results are in from the May 21 election. The committee will also discuss the proposed construction projects at that time.

“We didn’t approve those. We basically put them on the call-back until we see what happens with the reauthorization,” Hansen said. “The way we would fund those construction projects would be with revenue bonds or certificates of participation, whatever you want to call them. They won’t be a burden on the taxpayer. It’s not a construction bond.”

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