By: Bob Terry
A significant fact either unknown or overlooked by citizens of Washington County is that the fiscal year (budget year) for the County ends on June 30th but property taxes generally do not begin to come in until late November. Counties such as Multnomah borrow during the period between June 30th and late November paying interest on the borrowed money.
In the 10 years that I have been on the County’s Budget Committee, I have seen the advantage of maintaining a reserve – money in the bank on which the County can earn interest. By maintaining this reserve we have not had to borrow to cover the period between the close of the fiscal year until property taxes begin coming in.
Also during my 10 years on the Budget Committee, we have held the line on the General Fund. There has not been an increase in the General Fund rate during my service. Some ask: “Well then how come my taxes have gone up?” There are various levies that have been on the ballots over the years and the citizens have voted for these additional tax items that are outside the General Fund. A person’s property value may also increase, but the rate of taxing has not increased.
Due to the level of unemployment in Washington County and the overall down economy at this time, it is anticipated that some will likely delay their property tax payment or spread payments over a period of time. It’s going to take people with a lot of financial experience and sound judgment to assure citizens that essential services, such as public safety, are not compromised during these difficult times. It is essential that the reserve be maintained.