Deficit means Asotin County will probably make more budget cuts

CLARKSTON, WA - The Asotin County Commissioners were presented with a tentative budget plan for 2013.

Asotin County CFO Chris Kemp presented the commissioners and the public Monday morning with the 2013 preliminary budget.

"We've worked and reworked and worked these numbers," said Kemp.

The long list of calculations points to one conclusion, that the county is facing falling revenues while costs continue to rise. Kemp said among the many things that are creating a shortfall in revenues include sales tax, liquor excise tax distribution and liquor profits. As revenues fall, expenditures for the county are rising, thanks to personnel costs due to higher medical insurance, higher retirement contributions and increases to the minimum wage. But not all hope is lost for the county. Kemp said the deficit they face is a lot easier to swallow, thanks to many of the cuts they've already made.

"When the budget process started back in July the county was facing a $650,000-$700,000 deficit in 2013," said Kemp. "Currently the county is facing a $355,000 deficit."

As of now, most departments will receive budget cuts, if the preliminary presentation holds true. Some of the biggest savings and cuts are from the law and justice department at $68,000 in cuts. Kemp credits that to a reduction of costs for the Martin Hall juvenile detention center. The 4-H coordinator position has also been cut, reducing the 2013 budget by $36,000.

"If that holds true at a $355,000 deficit, the county is looking at having a cash balance at the end of 2013 around $750,000, " said Kemp.

Kemp said the county shouldn't dip into the reserves as much as they plan to next year. Ideally the county should have over $1 million in reserve. It seems however, options are limited.

The commissioners are taking into consideration public comments and concerns before making any permanent changes regarding next years budget.