County commissioners wrap up weeklong budget process

Douglas County

Douglas County

Nearly 24 hours of tentative budget hearings wrapped up on Friday afternoon after county commissioners declined to sort through $547,808 in supplemental personnel requests.

Faced with dipping $735,824 into reserves to balance the budget, commissioners said they would prefer to wait until they had money and then add in the additional positions.

Two of the requests for senior services drivers are dependent on getting grants, newly appointed Community Services Director Brook Adie told commissioners on Friday.

The two positions would have been used to increase public transportation in the south county, with a match approved last year. Also on the list are two food services workers for the senior center.

Most expensive on the list of supplemental requests is for a deputy public guardian with a request for a web master coming in second. The two positions account for $195,393, or 35 percent of the total.

“I’d love to say go for it,” said Chairman Wes Rice. “But it would be irresponsible for us to discuss it until later. I realize how important this is to the department head, but I don’t think that right now is the time to discuss it.”

With a new county manager and chief financial officer, the county heard presentations from more than a dozen different departments paid for by the general fund.

“Everyone is presenting,” County Manager Jenifer Davidson told commissioners. “It’s our goal that everyone has a better understanding what the county does.”

According to the opening presentation on Tuesday, the county has reduced the estimated increase in property taxes to 5.07 percent and is preparing for a 1.01-percent decrease in state consolidated taxes, which includes sales tax.

The county is working on a $67.6 million general fund budget, which is a 7-percent increase over last year’s adopted $63.1 million.

Property taxes are expected to account for $32.1 million of that with consolidates taxes coming in at a projected $16.6 million.

The tentative budget is balanced using $735,824 from the ending fund balance, but Davidson said that will be eliminated by the time the final budget is approved.

The county’s ideal ending fund balance is enough to cover two months of operating revenues so the county can pay its bills if there was a disaster.

The general fund pays for all elected officials, human resources, community development.  The county is budgeting for 616.29 full-time equivalent employ-ees.

No new positions are included in the budget, and it will include the elimination of seven positions at China Spring Youth Camp approved by commission-ers on March 21.

Chief Financial Officer Kathy Lewis explained that Douglas County is subject to two different property tax caps, one for individual governments that will be $1.3645 per $100 assessed valuation and a total ad valorem tax of $3.66 per $100 assessed valuation.

The towns of Gardnerville and Minden, and the Indian Hills, Topaz Ranch Estates and Oliver Park general improvement districts are all at the $3.66 cap, preventing an increase.

That cap doesn’t prevent residents’ tax bills from going up 3 percent each year, though. The Legislature approved a 3 percent cap for residential proper-ties and 8 percent for commercial in 2005.

While residential property taxes may only rise 3 percent, the difference be-tween that and the value of the property is banked. 

New construction is taxed at full value, which drove $114.9 million in proper-ty tax collections in fiscal year 2022-23.

That number is expected to come in at $79.4 million both this year and next.


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