Curry County commissioners approved the 2018-19 budget Wednesday on a 2-1 vote with Commissioner Tom Huxley voting no, despite his having voted for the document in the last budget committee meeting.
County commissioners and three appointed members from the public sit on the budget committee every spring to craft the budget for board approval.
Huxley said he voted against the motion to accept the budget because he did not agree with the transfer of $481,000 in road capital improvement reserve funds to the sheriff’s office for deputy patrols. He was also opposed to an additional $1,200 a year to be contributed toward employee health insurance.
Most of the $55.07 million budget is “pass-through” funding for special districts such as schools, fire departments and libraries. There are more than 40 special districts in Curry County.
Curry County’s general fund only sees a small percentage of the money collected from taxes, as it has the lowest tax rate in the state, at $0.599 per $1,000 assessed valuation. This year, that will net about $2.6 million to pay for almost all county services.
As part of public comments to the board, County Assessor Jim Kolen asked commissioners to increase the amount of money they are allowed to spend to travel for business — under a new policy, they are limited to $1,500 a year, none of which can be spent in-county — and to work full-time representing the county.
“It is important for Curry County to be represented by all three county commissioners in various meetings, in legislative sessions in the county, state, region — even at times in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “You develop personal relationships that have been very effective for past county commissioners.”
He cited the sinkhole in Harbor, the law enforcement summit in Gold Beach and Sudden Oak Death eradication funding among the results that participation outside Curry County has generated in the past.
He also encouraged the board to be full-time commissioners.
“We’re very fortunate to have found another skilled county administrator to relieve you of some of your duties,” Kolen said of newly instated Clark Schroeder. “We still need all hands on deck. We need a county administrator plus three full-time commissioners to represent us everywhere they can until Curry County’s financial issues are resolved. It’s an excellent investment for Curry County.”
Sheriff John Ward said he echoed Kolen’s comments; none of the commissioners replied.