OLYMPIA - The Thurston County Board of Commissioners has adopted the county's 2013 budget. Commissioners described the $300.4 million budget as a "hold-the-line" budget that will maintain the county's current level of programs and services without the painful budget cuts enacted over the past several years. The adopted General Fund budget for 2013 is $90.7 million, up $3.2 million from 2012-a three percent increase.-30-
"We only made a few changes to the original proposal we had in October because we just don't see a big change coming anytime soon to the economy or to our revenues. We had to be very careful, very prudent in our decisions to make sure that we live within our means in 2013 and beyond," said Commission Chair Cathy Wolfe.
Although Thurston County's budget deliberations this year didn't include the painful cuts and layoffs as in years past, County Manager Don Krupp says the budget proposal introduced in October also didn't include much for new programs or major spending increases. However, funding has been included for the opening of the Accountability and Restitution Center, a county priority for 2013. Krupp predicts a sluggish economic recovery and flat revenue in 2013, and likely in years to come, which means Thurston County government will need to be lean and efficient to stay on budget.
"I think Thurston County is positioned well to weather the economic storm, and that's thanks to all of the county employees who have kept a hawk's eye on their budgets and who have used solid, smart fiscal management," said Krupp. "We're in good shape going in to 2013 with a $15 General Fund balance, and the budget our commissioners adopted today will serve us well in the coming year."
The adopted budget for 2013 is $300.4 million, which is slightly higher than the proposal of $291.4 million proposal put forth in October, but still less than the 2012 budget of $320.1 million. The adopted General Fund budget of $90.7 million is $3.2 million more than the 2012 General Fund budget, and $3.1 million above the October proposed budget.
While county commissioners were committed to adopting a lean and efficient maintenance-level budget for 2013, they expect each year's budget, and future General Fund budgets in particular, to become increasingly difficult as revenues lag well behind inflation. Property and sales taxes are the largest revenue sources for the county's general fund, which supports core county services that do not have their own dedicated funding sources. Property tax growth, however, is limited to one percent per year, while operational costs typically increase by three to five percent per year during a normal economy. Thurston County's general fund receives only 11 cents out of every dollar collected in property tax revenue and the county's population increases by 5,000 to 6,000 new residents each year.