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Washington County proposed budget preserves basic county services despite reductions, funds modernization of key systems

UPDATE: Budget committees approve Washington County and special district budgets. The balanced county proposed budget closes a $10 million gap in the general fund, the third such reduced budget in as many years.
Media release

Updated May 20, 2024

The budget committees for Washington County, Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District (ESPD), Urban Road Maintenance District (URMD), North Bethany County Service District for Roads and the Service District for Lighting each voted to approve their proposed budgets Friday. Here is a summary of each budget committee’s actions:

  • Washington County – This budget committee approved a $2.1 billion total balanced county budget to preserve basic county services, invest in key systems modernization and while making reductions across the organization to close a $10 million funding gap in the General Fund.
  • Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District (ESPD) and the Urban Road Maintenance District (URMD) – This budget committee approved a $56 million balanced budget for the ESPD, the county special district providing law enforcement patrol services in the urban unincorporated areas of Washington County. The budget committee also approved a $18.3 million budget for the URMD, the county special district providing urban road maintenance to the urban unincorporated area.
  • North Bethany County Service District for Roads – This budget committee approved a balanced budget for $18.3 million to provide transportation improvements within a portion of northeastern Washington County that was brought into the urban growth boundary in 2002.
  • Washington County Service District for Lighting Number 1 – This budget committee approved a balanced budget of slightly under $4 million to provide the infrastructure needed for street lighting service in the urban unincorporated areas of Washington County.

Supporting documents, streaming video links and other information about these budget committee meetings can be found on the county's budget web page for fiscal year 2024-25.

The Board of County Commissioners will consider adopting these approved budgets after public hearings at the board’s regular business meeting on June 18 at 10 a.m. More information about the meeting can be found here and guidance about testifying as part of the public hearing can be found here.

Original Release:
Washington County’s proposed $2.1 billion total budget for fiscal year 2024-25 is now available online for public review and comment. For the third year running, the proposed budget addresses a shortfall in the county’s general fund, an area of the budget supported primarily by property taxes. The proposed spending plan also includes investments in the county’s strained public safety system as well as in modernization of aging internal systems and physical spaces. 

County Administrator Tanya Ange calls out these two realities – reducing resources while simultaneously investing in systems improvements – in the proposed budget’s opening message: 

“This ‘tale of two counties’ can be seen throughout the FY 2024-25 proposed budget. On the one hand the proposal supports the expansion of some programs while on the other hand it cuts service levels in the interest of budget balancing and ensuring that – at the very least – state-mandated service requirements are met.”

Achieving general fund balance 

The county’s $327 million general fund, which gives policy makers broad spending latitude when compared to other funds within the budget, has historically supported a variety of county services, sometimes beyond levels required by law. On the other hand, Oregon’s restricted framework for generating property taxes – the general fund’s primary revenue source – puts Washington County at a disadvantage relative to its regional peers. 

Recent forecasts of the general fund have revealed significant imbalances. A $31 million gap between projected general fund revenues and expenditures emerged in fiscal year 2022-23, a $25 million shortfall in 2023-24 and a $10 million shortage for next fiscal year. 

“The good news is that the county is making progress. Fewer budget adjustments are needed each year to close the gap between general fund revenues and expenditures,” said Chief Financial Officer Greg Munn. “Unfortunately, this ‘right sizing’ has real consequences when it comes to providing general fund-supported services to the community. Service reductions are inevitable when increases in the cost of labor and supplies continually outpace the increases in revenue under the state’s constrained property tax system.” 

County budget officials were guided in their work by the values, fundamental approaches and other direction provided by the Board of County Commissioners in a newly adopted Strategic Plan Update 2024-2028, as well as the board’s budget principles and priorities. County budget makers followed this guidance when drawing from lists of general fund reduction scenarios to keep revenues and expenditures aligned, including:

  • Saving $3.1 million by eliminating and freezing approximately 25 general fund-supported positions. 
  • Reducing $4.1 million in general fund transfers that have historically been made to the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) and Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) for the second year in a row. 
  • Replacing $3 million in general fund support for county facilities capital projects and affordable housing production with support for a limited-duration revenue source called the Strategic Investment Program (SIP). 

As described in the proposed budget’s summary, “this budget-balancing is continuing a trend of focusing general fund support for ongoing county services primarily on those that are mandated by state or federal requirements. Discretionary spending for operations beyond these mandated services is becoming increasingly challenging.”

General fund investments
Several examples of these required county services can be found in the county’s struggling public safety system. To address many of these crucial areas, general fund investments in the proposed budget focus on mandated support for operating a safe and fully staffed jail, maintaining secure court facilities, ensuring mandatory law enforcement training and others. 

Additional investments would preserve alternative paths to incarceration, including operating the Washington County Community Corrections Center at full capacity for the first time since the pandemic; fully supporting mental health, drug addiction, veterans, domestic violence and other specialty courts; and implementing promising prevention and diversion programs to reduce juvenile crime, particularly for historically underserved parts of the community. 

Modernization and maintenance of critical systems

Through a new, comprehensive capital improvement plan (CIP), Washington County has begun identifying projects to improve the organization’s infrastructure, technology, facilities and major pieces of equipment. This best practice for local governments enables prioritization and alignment with available resources over a five-year window. 

The proposed budget supports several of these projects using one-time or limited-duration funding, mostly outside of the general fund, including:

  • Nearly $66 million in limited-duration pandemic recovery dollars for critical maintenance for key public safety facilities operating 24-hours per day, including the Jail, Community Corrections Center and the Harkins House Juvenile Shelter. 
  • General fund transfers to the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) to support an estimated $150 million in transportation projects over the next five years. 
  • Approximately $11 million in limited-duration pandemic recovery dollars to help fund a replacement to the organization’s core human resources and financial data system. 
  • A total of $31.6 million, largely from carry-forward Oregon Health Plan funds, to establish the Center for Addiction Triage and Treatment (CATT), a new service to offer assessment, sobering, residential treatment and other support needed to address addiction and substance use in the community. 

By the numbers 

The total proposed budget would increase by $308 million or 17% above the 2023-24 adopted budget. This change is largely explained by general inflationary pressures on operating costs, such as cost-of-living increases, retirement and health insurance as well as the proceeds from the MSTIP bond sale to fund major transportation projects mentioned above.  

Looking at the general fund specifically, spending requirements would decrease by $21.9 million (-6%) due to a combination of the budget reductions mentioned earlier and transferring the Public Health and Parks budget out of the general fund to their own special funds. 

Focusing on equity  

For the third year in a row, Washington County is explicitly assessing equity considerations across the entire budget. Using a model developed nationally by the Government Alliance on Racial Equity (GARE), Washington County followed a set of equity-focused strategies and questions – called the Budget Equity Tool – to drive informed and targeted decision-making about the allocation of resources.  

A full description of the findings can be found in the Budget Equity Tool portion of the proposed budget documents published to the county’s website. 

Budget Committee meetings 

Washington County has four distinct budget committees: the Washington County/Service District for Lighting No. 1, Urban Road Maintenance District, Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District and the North Bethany County Service District for Roads budget committees. These committees focus on their specific areas and some committees have shared memberships. 

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in this year’s budget process in a variety of ways:  

  • Review the Fiscal Year 2023-24 Proposed Budget Summary and submit questions or comments to [email protected].  
  • Attend any of the budget meetings or public hearings virtually and provide comments at designated times. The public may also attend in person at the Charles D. Cameron Public Services Building, Auditorium, 155 N. First Avenue in Hillsboro.  
  • Meetings will also be livestreamed from the County’s YouTube channel. 
  • Meeting dates and times include: 
    • Monday, April 29, 2024 – 6 to 8 p.m. — County Budget Committee hears the annual budget message and financial overview. 
    • Wednesday, May 15, 2024 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – County Budget Committee begins receiving presentations about the proposed budget with briefings on each of the organization’s functional areas. 
    • Thursday, May 16, 2024 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with public comment at 5:30 p.m. – County Budget Committee (9 a.m. to noon) continues with functional area presentations. Service district budget committees then receive presentations, starting with Service District for Lighting No. 1 (12:15 p.m.), Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District (1 p.m.), Urban Road Maintenance District (2 p.m.) and North Bethany County Service District for Roads (3 p.m.). A public comment opportunity will be provided at the end of this day. 
    • Friday, May 17, 2024 – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with public hearing at 9:15 a.m. for the county budget and as shown for special districts – Washington County Budget Committee will hold a public hearing at 9:15 a.m., followed by deliberation and a potential budget approval vote. Service district budget committees then begin presentations, public hearings and potential budget approval votes, starting with Service District for Lighting No. 1 (10:45 a.m.), Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District (11:45 a.m.), Urban Road Maintenance District (1:05 p.m.) and North Beth. Public hearings to convene at 1:55 p.m. Public testimony is welcomed prior to committee action on each budget. Register in advance by visiting the How to Testify webpage
    • Wednesday, May 22, 2024 – 9 a.m. to noon – Potential meeting of the Washington County Budget Committee for purposes of committee deliberations.
    • Wednesday, May 29, 2024 – 6 to 8 p.m. – Potential meeting of the Washington County Budget Committee for purposes of committee deliberations.

Washington County is a leading-edge, mission-focused organization that successfully serves the community now and in the years ahead. We are a human-centered organization that integrates equity into decision-making and supports the health, effectiveness, creativity and talents of our employees as public servants and the residents whom we serve. The organization is supported by a budget of $2.1 billion and is staffed by 2,570 full-time equivalent employees serving a diverse and growing population of 610,245 on the western side of the Portland metropolitan area. More information about Washington County can be found at


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