GOLD BEACH – Curry County commissioners have written Audit Manager Alan J. Bell of the Secretary of State’s office that they have scraped up enough money to run the county for one year using road funds, the vehicle replacement fund and working capital.
State auditors had written Curry County and seven other counties, enclosing a draft report on financial conditions of the counties.
They asked for the county’s feedback on the report.
“Our objective is to provide an overview of county financial condition in Oregon and identify counties for further monitoring,” the request said.
“We would also like to know about any other relevant information on these financial issues you can provide about your county. In particular, we would like to hear from you about the following information:
•“Are there any apparent inaccuracies regarding the financial information presented for your county, or additional information to explain the trend data?
•“Actions planned or being taken by the county to respond to the loss of federal timber payments?”
The commissioners responded that county officials had undertaken a series of steps to address the loss of federal timber payments.
“During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Board of Curry County Commissioners saved approximately $175,148 by combining the Economic and Community Development Department with the Commissioners’ Office and (in part) the County Counsel Office, and by making changes in the Treasurer’s Office, Maintenance Department, the Sheriff’s Office and Planning Department,” the commissioners wrote.
“In addition, at the end of fiscal year 2011-2012, the Board spun off Curry County Home Health & Hospice Department to a private nonprofit entity called Coastal Home Health & Hospice. This resulted in a decrease of approximately 35 employees,” the letter continued.
“The County is scheduled to transfer its Developmental Disabilities Program to the State of Oregon by September of 2012, resulting in a decrease of an additional three and one half FTE positions. At the same time, the Board has set a target date of July 1, 2013, as the date by which it intends to spin off the Health and Human Services Department (Public Health and Mental Health) to one or more public or private entities,” the letter says.“The County is currently running on a shoestring budget. For instance, a couple of years ago the County had three full time planners in the Public Services Department. Now it has budgeted for only one less than halftime position,” it continued.
“Some years ago the Curry County Sheriff’s Office retained 16 road deputies; now it has only five with the resulting inability to have 24 hour coverage,” the commissioners wrote.
“The Curry County Budget Committee has just completed its work in adopting a budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. It was able to adopt a very lean but largely status quo budget by authorizing the taking of $700,000 from the Road Fund pursuant to House Bill 4175, and by depleting reserves in taking $350,000 from the Vehicle Replacement Fund and $450,000 from working capital,” the letter said.
“The Board will continue to seek ways of increasing revenue and decreasing expenditures where reasonably possible,” it concluded.
The Oregon Audits Division’s draft report says that the county includes 1,684 square miles, with the major industries of agriculture, forest products and mining.
“Curry has the second lowest property tax rate in Oregon and is heavily reliant on federal timber payments,” the overview says.
“The county’s unemployment rate has remained high, and spending on public safety is in the bottom 10 among counties,” it continues.
“Despite these trends, Curry County has shown good debt management practices, has strong liquidity and has one of the lowest pension obligations per capita among counties,” it says. “It also has one of the top per capita personal income levels among Oregon counties.”