Clatsop County’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year has been set at $70.1 million.
County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt the spending plan for the fiscal year, which begins Sunday. The budget represents a 34 percent increase over the past three years.
A large chunk of that money comes from funds that were saved and have rolled over into the current fiscal year. Contingency funds accounted for $18.4 million of the budget last year and will total $21.8 million this year.
“It looks like your budget is increasing, but some of that is just contingencies,” Budget and Finance Director Monica Steele said.
For county employees, a rise in the cost of living adjustment, health benefits and the state Public Employees Retirement System have also driven the increase, Steele said. The budget includes room for nine new full-time employees, bringing the capacity of the county government workforce to 222. The county hopes to hire a land use code compliance officer, building inspector and several Public Works Department employees.
Included in the budget is $20,000 in additional funds available for the county to give to outside agencies. The allotment for outside agencies — typically nonprofit organizations — was slashed in half during an economic downturn to $15,000. Commissioners had discussed increasing the amount at previous meetings, and the county Human Services Advisory Council has recommended a bump.
“We certainly do know that we have these problems in our community — higher than a lot of the other rural counties — and I don’t know how we would assess all of this,” Commissioner Sarah Nebeker said. “But that’s why these early intervention programs are so essential, because down the road, it will help alleviate some of those more expensive later problems into adolescence and adulthood.”