Friday, September 18, 2020
Sept. 18, 2020

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County manager finds savings ahead of 2020 budget cycle

Department ‘deep dives,’ reorganization unearths hundreds of thousands

By , Columbian political reporter

Clark County Manager Shawn Henessee said Wednesday he’s found hundreds of thousands of dollars in ongoing savings for the county that will relieve some fiscal pressure as the county prepares for what could be a difficult upcoming budget cycle.

Henessee’s remarks came during a morning work session on spring supplemental amendments to the county’s current budget. He said the county will see about $116,000 in ongoing savings and $32,000 in one-time savings as a result of his recent reorganization of county government.

The reorganization included moving indigent defense to the Community Services Department, the medical examiner to Public Health, transportation planning to the Public Works Department and purchasing to the Auditor’s Office.

“The primary motivation wasn’t just to realize savings — but we certainly did want to realize some savings,” said Henessee. “It was also just to get some more support to some individual departments.”

Henessee also said he was in the middle of doing “deep dives” with county departments to find more savings in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 budget cycle. So far, he said, the sessions have produced about $834,000 in savings for the general fund in 2019, of which $362,000 will be ongoing.

“We are not going to generate a high amount of additional revenue for other programs through these savings, but this certainly helps a lot in relieving some of the pressure on the general fund,” said Henessee.

The purpose of the work session was for Henessee to explain the proposed supplements to the county’s 2019 budget to the council. The county makes spring and fall adjustments to the $518 million budget to cover unforeseen expenses, account for new revenue or legal settlements, and make technical updates.

Henessee received 76 budget updates from offices and departments and recommended the council approve 75 of them. He said he wasn’t recommending one that concerned flood plain insurance because he wants more information.

Among other updates, the supplemental budget authorizes Community Services to spend $180,000 from its Veterans Fund to meet increased demand for services. Another request recognizes $600,000 in state grants to help with recovery services, as well as incorporating $744,000 in reimbursements from the state to offset costs from the recent measles outbreak.

According to materials presented at the meeting, if the council approves the recommended updates, the county will see a net increase in its total fund balance of $3.7 million in 2019 and $13.2 million in 2020.

The county council will consider the supplemental budget June 4.