Umatilla County’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year will crest $91 million, an increase of almost $12.6 million from the ongoing budget.

The county also plans to boost its ranks of equivalent full-time employees from 311 to 324.

Robert Pahl, the county’s chief finance officer, explained revenue from development deals, boosts in certain state funds and increases in capital spending and a larger beginning balance contribute to the total $91.3 million budget proposal.

“We anticipate the first payments from the new Lamb Weston plant and the Vadata SIP [Strategic Investment Program] to come this year,” he said. “That amounts to roughly $3 million.”

The county distributes most of that revenue to taxing districts and the the city of Hermiston. Still, Pahl said, the budget reflects money coming into and and going out of county coffers.

The general fund for 2019-20 approaches $32.4 million, a 9% rise, while special reserve funds reach $53.8 million, a jump of almost 18%. Special reserve funds account for revenue with restrictions, such as state funding for roads.

“State programs are a little volatile that way, depending on what programs we get,” Pahl said.

For example, the county human services program to provide mental health treatment in schools received about $300,000 from the state for 2018-19, but that’s jumping to $700,000 to add 3.8 positions.

“It’s all grant funded,” he said.

Law enforcement has the largest share of the county’s budget, with the sheriff’s office alone accounting for nearly $15.5 million. Pahl said the county continues its trend during recent budget cycles of adding law enforcement positions.

The sheriff’s office is getting two new deputies, and the distinct attorney’s office gets a new position to handle the state mandate to record grand jury proceedings. The Community Justice Department, which includes parole and probation, is getting three new positions.

Special reserve funds will pay for 148.4 full-time positions in the upcoming fiscal year and the general fund will pay for 175.6, a combined increase of 13 positions. General fund positions have been around the 167 mark the past two cycles.

“We’re in pretty good financial shape now, I think,” Pahl said, and that provides the ability to add positions and provide more services. But, he said, the county has to do that with caution.

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