Dozier, Johnson good stewards of tax dollars

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As a matter of clarification, Chris Blackman's answer to one of the questions by the U-B published July 23 -- "For example, last year the commissioners instituted furloughs and increased taxes instead of using the reserves" -- is incorrect.

The Board of County Commissioners has not increased the county's portion of property tax for the past three years. While your overall property taxes may have gone up as a result of voter-approved tax increases or other taxing districts increasing their portions, the county general fund has not taken an increase in three years!

In response to Ms. Blackman's statement -- "What the current commissioners have yet to do is establish a strategic plan of how and when to spend the reserves" -- the county's budget committee meets on several occasions after preliminary budgets have been submitted to the Board of County Commissioners for consideration. The committee is comprised of one commissioner -- which I was the representative for the past seven years -- the county treasurer and the county auditor.

Last year, the requests were nearly $2 million over projected revenues. Each elected official and department head has an opportunity to present their budget to the committee concerning any extraordinary expenditures or revenues anticipated for the following year.

After those discussions at the end of 2011, the budget committee recommended to the commissioners that the county use the majority of any surplus ending fund balance to replenish those funds that had to be used during the year and to carry forward the remainder to help balance the 2012 budget as this proposed budget had expenses exceeding the revenue forecast for 2012.

Additionally, a number of expenditures from the current expense reserve funds were recommended for use, which included security cameras and improvements for the Courthouse from the building fund, money for upgrading technology software from the technology fund, dollars from the vehicle fund to replace patrol cars, the medical insurance reserve fund was used to help offset the increase in medical insurance premiums, plus some additional specific requests.

As required by law, a public hearing was held prior to the approval of the county budget, which included the aforementioned recommendations.

It is unfortunate that those who seem to be questioning actions of the commissioners either from hearsay or conjecture don't take the time to find out the facts prior to expressing their opinions. The county budget committee's recommendations are public information should you care to check the actual facts.

I am supporting Commissioner Perry Dozier and newly appointed Commissioner Jim Johnson as they both will be good stewards of our tax dollars.

Gregg Loney

Walla Walla

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