A rosier economic picture gave Clackamas County some flexibility in its 2014-15 budget, approved unanimously June 26.

“This is the first unanimous budget committee vote in a long, long time,” said Commission Chairman John Ludlow.

Commissioner Jim Bernard noted how few people came to testify during the three-hour budget hearing and concluded that voters are happy with how the money is being spent.

“Obviously, the folks are not up in arms or else they would be here,” Bernard said. “So I think we’re doing a good job.”

Savas wondered if a comment Ludlow made at the State of the County meeting — “Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever decided not necessarily to come to a meeting, that might be one” due to the 14 scheduled budget hearings — lowered attendance.

Ludlow said he resented that. “It was certainly not a discouraging comment to get people not to come here.”

The $605.8 million budget included 18 percent in double-counted interdepartmental transfers and 15 percent in contingencies and reserves. This means the total actually spent will be approximately $405 million.

County Administrator Don Krupp announced in May an extra $900,000 available in the general fund and a one-time $900,000 federal timber payment. The budget committee used the surplus on road improvements, jail beds for youth offenders, a program to find homeless veterans, and an improved county website, among other things.

“We got some really good buy for those two $900,000 amounts,” Ludlow said.

An increase in property values, a decrease in unemployment, a decrease in county personnel and reforms to the Public Employees Retirement System led to much of this year’s pool of extra money.

Commissioner Martha Schrader joined other commissioners in praising county staff, particularly Krupp for whom this was his first budget as county administrator.

“I think this was one of the best budget processes that I’ve seen in a long time,” Schrader said.

In addition to the county budget, another $219.1 million was appropriated for special service districts also managed by the county commissioners. Service districts are created when an area agrees to pay extra taxes for extra services, such as libraries, parks and law enforcement.

This included $76 million for the at-times contentious Development Agency, which manages four urban renewal districts. The Clackamas Town Center urban renewal district has stopped collecting money, but still has $48 million in its coffers.

“I have to say, I’m going to vote for this, and I hate urban renewal,” said Ludlow, who added that the commission is committed to divesting the Town Center district. This year $9 million of urban renewal funds will go back to schools, police, fire and parks.

All county employees, including elected officials, will get a 2.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment. This was negotiated through the county’s union for represented employees, but must be voted on for the management.

“It’s one of those classic compensation practices that when you have your non-represented group and you have your leadership group, you try to make sure that everybody is keeping up the same way,” said Department of Employee Services Director Nancy Drury.

In addition, County Treasurer Shari Anderson will get a 5 percent bump. That’s because the Compensation Board determined that the county was paying its treasurer 8.8 percent below market value.

“That’s quite a steep bit below market,” Drury said.

The Compensation Board also determined the Commissioners are 5.6 percent below market value, but the Commissioners did not approve their recommended 1.5 percent market increase. Last year, the Commissioners received a 4 percent total raise, with the Board Chair getting an additional 2 percent increase. This brings the Commissioners’ 2014-15 monthly salary to $7200.36 and $7344.37 respectively.

See the budget online at:

Contract Publishing

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