COUNTY GOVERNMENT

As city and school district cut, Marion County’s proposed budget mostly stable

The Marion County Budget Committee will meet for eight hours Wednesday to get an overview of the county’s proposed $732.8 million in spending over the next year.

The committee is scheduled to vote at the end of the day, around 5:15 p.m., on recommending the annual budget, which then goes to the Board of Commissioners for approval in June. If a second meeting is necessary to finish the budget, it will be held on May 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The committee includes all three county commissioners and three appointed volunteers who are citizens of the county and who are not county employees. 

READ IT: AGENDA

To participate

The budget committee meeting begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 22, in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. The public is welcome to attend budget committee meetings and deliberations and to share public comment during designated public hearings. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube. The deadline to submit public comment has passed. 

Though other local governments, including the city of Salem and Salem-Keizer School District are facing deep budget cuts, Marion County’s budget is largely stable compared to last year. 

The proposed budget for 2024-25 is an increase of $13 million, or 1.8%, from this year.

The county is cutting about 20 vacant full-time positions, mostly in the Health and Human Services Department, to keep up with rising personnel costs.

About one third of the budget pays for transportation, infrastructure, and emergency management. The next largest share, 22%, is for public safety, including the sheriff’s office and juvenile department. Health and community services consume 18% of the budget.

Infrastructure projects expand

More federal money will boost construction projects around Marion County, including efforts to build sewage systems in Santiam Canyon towns hit by wildfires in 2020.

The public works department’s proposed grants budget is $44.7 million, up from $16 million this year. That budget covers road and other infrastructure projects paid for with outside money, like state and federal grants.

Much of the increase comes from federal Covid relief money, which is paying for ongoing sewer system work in Mill City and Gates, about $20 million of the total. Funds are also budgeted for projects in Detroit, Idanha, and Brooks, and a public safety radio system replacement. 

Vacant job cuts 

The county will spend about $6 million more on employees than last year, a 2.8% increase, despite cutting about 20 vacant full-time jobs. That’s due to rising wages and benefits cost.

The county is also adding 4 full-time jobs.

The majority of the job cuts are from the health department. About one third are in the communicable disease program, which eliminated positions after Covid funding from the prior year was exhausted. Three of the cut positions are vacant addiction treatment associates positions.

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790. 

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.