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Property tax rates will stay the same under spending plan approved last week by Clackamas County Commission

The new Clackamas County budget proposes no new initiatives for the year starting July 1.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PETER WONG - Les Poole of Gladstone, right, speaks for the Extension/4-H Service District budget at a meeting of Clackamas County commissioners, who approved the county budget and spending plans for eight special-purpose districts on Thursday, June 29.

But after the commissioners approved total spending of $1.1 billion for county government and eight special-purpose agencies they oversee, Board Chairman Jim Bernard said the money will go not just to public safety but also services that keep people from getting into trouble.

"You may not see a lot of discretionary money," Bernard said Thursday (June 29). "But I think our administrator and staff have done a good job aligning those dollars to where we as a commission feel it is important."

He spoke after Commissioner Paul Savas said the budget continues to go up, but discretionary spending does not do so at the same rate.

Unlike a year ago, County Administrator Don Krupp did not invite agencies to submit spending on new initiatives — known as policy-level proposals — so that the focus would be on stabilizing budgets.

Increasing contributions to the public-pension system will cost the county $5 million more in this budget, Krupp said. The system has advised government employers that their contributions will have to jump 20 percent this year — and by similar amounts in 2019 and 2021 — given pension liabilities.

The sheriff's budget faced an initial $6.5 million gap between projected income and anticipated spending, but it was balanced, although it relies on $3 million in carryover funds.

"But we have more work to do," Krupp said.

The budget for county government itself is $782.5 million, although because of double-counted transfers, the actual spending is about $100 million less. Much of that comes from state and federal grants, which are uncertain because the Oregon Legislature and Congress have not taken final action on their budgets.

It proposes no changes in property tax rates, which are $2.40 per $1,000 of taxable property value within cities that have their own police, and $2.97 outside cities, plus 25 cents for a supplemental sheriff's levy and 10 cents for bond repayments.

There will be a slight decline in full-time positions from 2,065 to 2,049.

By next year, most county departments will be under Performance Clackamas, a program commissioners adopted in 2014 — a year after Krupp was hired as administrator — to measure spending against results and a set of goals.

The Sheriff's Office will transition to that program in the next year — community corrections has already done so — and just a handful of agencies including the district attorney will be left out.

"It has given our budget far more of a focus," Commissioner Martha Schrader said. "I think that framework will clarify for the public what we do, and how we do it."

The commissioners heard from only one person — Les Poole of Gladstone, who spoke for the Clackamas County Extension and 4-H Service District budget — during the 90 minutes it took for them to complete action on nine separate budgets.

During a public hearing May 31, they heard from just two people who spoke for Northwest Housing Alternatives.

But Commissioner Ken Humberston, a veteran of other local government boards, said the budget committees for the county and eight special districts have an equal number of public members who review proposed spending with the commissioners.

Counting the special districts, the committees spent five business days in public meetings.The budgets were approved June 5-6.

"I want to reassure you that a lot of energy and effort on the part of a lot of people went into making sure we have a responsible budget," he said.

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Highlights of other budgets

Enhanced Law Enforcement District: $7 million budget, 72 cents tax rate. This district provides patrols and other services in the county's urban unincorporated communities.

Extension and 4-H Service District: $7.9 million budget, 5 cents tax rate.

Library Service District: $20.3 million budget, 39.7 cents tax rate. The money goes to cities that operate libraries.

North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District: $55.1 million budget, 53.8 cents tax rate.

Clackamas County Development Agency: $55 million budget. The only tax is collected in the North Clackamas Revitalization Area.

Service District No. 5 (street lighting in Happy Valley and unincorporated areas): $4.7 million budget, raised mostly through rate charges; there will be 2 percent decreases in 11 of 12 categories this year.

Water Environment Services (combines Tri-City Service District and Surface Water Management Agency): $19 million budget; monthly rate will go up 3 percent from $21.50 to $22.15, excluding monthly right-of-way fees of $1.10 in Gladstone (up 5 percent) and $1.35 in Oregon City (up 6 percent). Systems development charge for new construction will be $3,125 per equivalent dwelling unit.

Service District No. 1: $133.8 million budget; monthly rate will go up 3 percent from $45 to $46.35, excluding monthly right-of-way fee of $2.32 in Happy Valley (up 5 percent). Systems development charge for new construction will be $7,330 per EDU.

Pay increases

Some elected officials, including county commissioners, will get pay increases in the new Clackamas County budget.

The commissioners rejected pay increases for all elected officials last year, but a three-member compensation board — all independent of county government — recommended selective increases to keep some officials within ranges of peers in Marion, Multnomah and Washington counties, and Clark County in Washington state.

For four commissioners, their pay will increase 5.95 percent from $89,542 to $94,870. Chairman Jim Bernard is paid 2 percent more than the other commissioners, so his salary will go up from $91,333 to $96,767.

They are paid less than all the other elected officials, however.

The pay of Treasurer Shari Anderson will go up from $110,373 to $113,187, and for Assessor Bob Vroman, from $108,390 to $112,997.

Circuit judges and District Attorney John Foote are considered state officials, although the county contributes to Foote's salary.

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