The Kootenai County Commissioners have been having budgetary meetings with different groups since the beginning of the year but now is the time that they start putting everything together and look at the budget from a 30,000-foot view.
The commissioners have met with multiple groups for their budgetary input up to this point:
As a reminder, the county budget is split into three buckets of money: A Budget, B Budget, and C Budget.
For a full explanation of the A, B, and C Budget differences, see the notes from the 1/10/23 BOCC Status Update meeting where Finance walks new commissioner Bruce Mattare through the budget process.
This meeting is just to give an overview to the preliminary FY24 budget; the Commissioners will be making modifications and will discuss them at the multiple meetings over the next month.
Preliminary Summary – No cuts to open positions
This is the overall summary that Finance uses to determine how close they are to balancing the budget. This also shows how close they are to balancing the budget based on 0%, 1%, 2%, or 3% county-wide tax increase scenarios. This is before the county makes any cuts to open positions that will be discussed in a later slide. Note that if the county took a 3% tax increase (as legally allowed to do) then they would have a budget surplus.
Preliminary Summary – WITH cuts to open positions
This is the overall summary but with cuts to open positions. Funds have always been set aside for the open positions in case people are hired in the future. In this scenario, Finance looked at positions that have been open longer than 100 days and cut that funding in half by 50%. With these cuts it changes the budget totals in the 0%, 1%, 2%, or 3% county-wide tax increase scenarios. If the county asked for a 3% tax increase, there would be an almost $2.3 million budget surplus.
There are a couple of key reasons why the revenues and expenses are close to balance before cuts:
Public Defense will now be state-controlled positions. The Idaho Legislature passed HB236 this session which allowed the state to come in and control the county public defenders instead of the local government, much like the judges. (I am proud to note that every one of the 8 representatives and 4 senators that represent Kootenai County voted against this bill.) Kootenai County Public Defender Anne Taylor went down to Boise to testify against this bill; watch her testimony here. Regardless, the state is now funding the public defenders so that saves the county $4.4 million. The state will be funding out of sales tax all but $200,000 which will still be coming out of county indigent fund balance.
The county will still be paying for the office rental housing the public defenders until the state figures out what they want to do about that.
Interest revenue is expected to be increased by $2.2 million, about 3x the amount last year. This is an anomaly; a one-time amount based on the economy and interest rates.
Finance worked closely with the local DMV and with cuts and fee increases, the DMV is now fully self-funded, saving the taxpayers $1.6 million.
The county is not expecting an increase in health insurance costs. This is also an anomaly and will not happen every year.
Property tax revenues will be uncertain until they get the numbers from the Assessor’s office in July.
New construction preliminary numbers will be due June 5th but final numbers will not be available until July 24th.
Two Post Falls urban renewal districts have closed in 2023 so until the board accepts the values. Right now the value is around $700,000.
Non-property tax revenues are line items that are straightforward and easy to budget: fees, state revenue sharing, sales tax, liquor revenue, etc.
Property Tax Timeline
One note is that property taxes will be affected by Idaho Legislature's passing of HB292. If one remembers, HB292 was a multi-faceted bill that included property tax relief which would be funded in part by a new and ongoing allocation of 2.25% of sales tax revenue. It should be noted, however, that this program is not available to everyone, but only owners of residential properties receiving the homeowners exemption. (This is also the bill that allocates more money to the school districts so that they wouldn’t have to ask for so much in their levies – but CDA School District knew this and still asked for $25 million.)
Personnel is the largest expenditure with $83 million budgeted. Of that, $8 million is allocated to open positions with the highest vacancies at the jail, public defender and E911.
Funds must be specifically allocated to purchase/upgrade facilities.
County departments have requested 15 new job positions which will cost $1.1 million in salary plus $340,000 for onboarding.
Requests to change salary levels for 57 current employees will cost $900,000.
Requests to fix the salary matrix so that everyone, except Sheriff patrol & command staff, is working off the same salary matrix to the tune of $1.1 million. (This has been a work in progress for the last few budget cycles and it looks like it will be a possibility this year.)
Sheriff patrol and command staff are on a separate salary matrix and there has been a few requests (some would describe it as fights) to modify that matrix so that it was closer to being competitive with the CDA Police Department. If this new matrix would be approved as suggested, it would cost $1.2 million for 96 employees. A budget review meeting with the Sheriff is on the calendar for this Friday at 10:00am where the Sheriff will hash out budget issues with the Commissioners so grab your popcorn and get ready for a show.
Operating & Capital
Budget Deliberations Timeline
There are 6 budget deliberation meetings scheduled between now and July 17. The first meeting is scheduled with the elected officials today at 9:00am.
Alliant Health will be presenting their benefits package on July 17, at which time the commissioners must deliberate on, and balance, the budget.
Preliminary budget will be published to the public on August 1st.
Public hearing will be held on August 30th.
Budget adoption is September 1st.
How Do We Balance the Budget?
Justice Center expansion final price is unknown as well as funding source. They should know more information in the fall but after the budget is finalized.
Kootenai County is taking over the old Kootenai Electric Cooperative building and will be known as KC North. There is nothing budgeted in FY24 for moving into, and remodeling, that building. Funding and funding source are TBD. No relocation budgets have been added to any department’s funding.
Alliant Health PMR Clinic will be moving into one of the county buildings but there is no information yet as to which building they will occupy or how much it will cost although funding is already in place.
Moving forward public defense will be funded through the state for all but $200,000. There are still a lot of unanswered questions around this that are still being worked out.
Brandi will be running some different numbers for the matrix inflation adjustments and have them ready for Friday’s Sheriff budget discussion. Otherwise the feedback for this preliminary budget has been positive and the commissioners are looking forward to looking at ways to cut the budget so the property taxes are minimal.
Reminder that the next budget discussion meeting will be with the elected officials THIS MORNING at 9am.