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2022's budget explained

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | September 29, 2021 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT – Bonner County will have a budget of $62,413,429 next year. The 2022 budget was unanimously approved by resolution by county commissioners late last month.

But what do those numbers mean? Here’s a quick breakdown of where the money is coming from and where the money is being spent.

The four highest expenses take up over three-quarters of the total budget. In order, they are the Justice Fund at $19,757,708, the General Fund at $10,996,695, Road & Bridge at $9,458,037, and Solid Waste at $7,989,619.

The Justice Fund covers the judicial workings of Bonner County. The bulk of their expenses go toward the Sheriff’s Department, jail, and marine patrol costing $10,534,202.

A large portion of the General Fund goes toward four expenses: technology at $2,002,916, the Planning Department at $1,404,471, Geographic Information at $1,162,453, and costs listed as “general” at $1,026,575.

Mid-range expenses include the 911 fund at $2,306,252, District and Drug courts at $2,331,093, revaluation at $1,580,956, and tort at $1,588,346.

48.81%, or $30,463,408 of the budget will be raised from taxes. The other half of revenue will be collected from grants, carryover, and miscellaneous smaller streams of revenue.

$3,985,881 was carried over from last year’s budget, considerably less than previous years.

“Traditionally we’ve seen about 8 to 10 million dollars worth of unspent budget every year that we turn around and push into the next year,” said Commissioner Dan McDonald at the August meeting. “Because of inflation, we’re not seeing 8 to 10 million dollars, actually, it’s about $3.6 - $3.8 million. We’re missing about $4 to 5 million that we would normally be able to use.”

Inflation and increasing health district expenses contributed to the county’s difficulty in balancing next year’s budget. Officials were in a pinch.

“Between the legislation and inflation, it’s just hammered us,” McDonald said. “Last year we paid $254,000 to Panhandle Health. The state has now shifted their costs to us, so now we have to pay for that $254,000 plus their share of $300,000. And in that same session they also kept us from being able to reduce their budget.”

To fill the gap, commissioners passed a budget that collects $2,735,040 of foregone property taxes, trims department expenses, and includes a large percentage of new construction costs as revenue.

“I wish I could tell the state what to do, we’ve tried to warn the state about this property tax reform, and we told them this was going to hurt the counties. They went ahead, reached into our pockets and took it out anyway.” McDonald said. “It wipes out everything.”

Even though years of savings will have to be realized, Bonner County will have a balanced budget going forward into next year.

The resolution containing 2022’s budget can be found on the county commissioner’s website at bonnercountyid.gov by searching “2021 Resolutions”.

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(Graphic – Annisa Keith)

A pie chart of estimated revenue for fiscal year 2022.