Marion County budget by the numbers: what the commissioners are doing with your money

Marion County Courthouse. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to consider adopting the county’s annual budget, this year with the largest year-over-year increase in recent history.

The county has gotten an influx of federal dollars in the past year as it’s dealt with the Covid pandemic and the Santiam Canyon wildfires.

In addition to reimbursements from handling Covid monitoring, grants to businesses and protective gear distribution, the county is getting an infusion of one-time federal money over the next two years.

Commissioners haven’t decided how they’ll spend $67 million of American Rescue Plan Act money, federal Covid relief approved by Congress in March. Salem plans to spend a quarter of its share to address homelessness.

“Next year begins a period of tremendous growth for the county due to the magnitude of incoming funds as we recover from three major disasters. We must stay cognizant of the important work we have to accomplish, and the complexities and the responsibilities involved in managing all that comes with it,” Jan Fritz, chief administrative officer, wrote in her budget message.


Here are some big numbers from the budget:

$576.7 million

That’s the total amount of money the county plans to spend in the next year. It pays for things like sheriff’s patrols, mental health counseling and road maintenance.

About $81.9 million of that comes from property taxes. The county also gets federal funding, money from the state gas tax and from video lottery.


The plans to spend an additional $73.6 million this year, a 14.6% increase from last year, with most of that money coming from an infusion in federal cash. Last year the county budgeted $503 million.


The number of additional positions budgeted this year. That includes four new employees at the county’s Health and Human Services Department, one at the district attorney’s office, one in business services and one in IT.

The county has 1,563 full time employees.

$25.5 million

The county’s cost of managing the pandemic to date. That includes 576 employees who assisted with pandemic related tasks.

The Health and Human Services Department has been testing, contact tracing and collecting case data for more than a year as the county saw more than 22,000 cases of Covid and 309 residents who died.


The percentage of Marion County land that burned in the Santiam Canyon wildfires. The county is using $1 million from its general fund to pay for its wildfire response after the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed the county 75% of its costs.

The county estimates that damage to county parks in that area cost $13.8 million.

$89 million

How much the county is asking the Oregon Legislature for to help communities recover from the Labor Day wildfires. It includes asks for an upgraded sewer system in Gates and Mill City, septic upgrades in Detroit and Idanha and a water system in Detroit. 

$4.4 million

The amount of federal money allocated for a new Community Development Program at the county for Community Development Block Grants intended to assist low to moderate income people with housing and economic opportunities.

The program starts in July and includes two full time positions.

The city of Salem spends the federal funds to help pay for affordable housing projects and rental assistance. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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