Current expenses just part of county budget picture

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WALLA WALLA — While the current expense fund in the Walla Walla County budget is the subject of major debates during the budgeting process, it is only one of many funds which make up the total financial picture.

Overall the county has 56 separate funds, but most are dedicated for specific purposes. It is the current expense fund, also referred to as the general fund, which typically funds the majority of the county’s day-to-day operations.

All funds have a “beginning fund balance” which is the amount the fund is estimated to have in cash at the beginning of the year. Just like an ordinary person, the county has to have money on hand to pay the bills that come in after the first of the year.

There is also an “ending fund balance” which is the amount estimated to be in the fund at the end of the year.

In the case of the general fund, a resolution passed by commissioners in 2000 requires an ending fund balance equal to three months of expenditures be maintained in the event of “unforeseen circumstances,” such as a major emergency or loss of tax revenue. This ending fund balance is equal to 25 percent of total projected expenditures.

According to the resolution passed this week, the county’s 2013 current expense budget has a beginning fund balance of $4,650,000 with projected revenues of $14,389,757 for a total of $19,039,757. Expenditures are projected to be $15,187,517, leaving an ending fund balance of $3,852,240. This is 25.36 percent of projected general fund expenditures.

In the overall picture, the current expense fund is about 25 percent of the total county budget. The total of all funds breaks down into a beginning fund balance of $25,189,339 combined with projected revenues of $51,048,971 for a total of $76,238,310. Expenditures are projected to be $57,378,168, leaving an ending fund balance of $18,860,142.

In terms of expenditures, the five largest funds in the 2013 county budget are:

(1) Current expense/general fund — $15,187,517 (26.4 percent of total expenditures)

(2) County road fund — $13,647,500 (23.8 percent of total expenditures)

(3) Human services — $7,088,237 (12.4 percent of total expenditures)

(4) Equipment rental and revolving fund — $3,418,000 (pays for maintenance, repair and replacement of all county owned vehicles and equipment) (6 percent of total expenditures)

(5) Emergency Medical Services taxes — $2,467,737 (4.3 percent of total expenditures)

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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