I recently received a copy of the July 29, 2022, Clark County financial monitoring report review produced by the auditor’s office. The report presents the 17 fiscal policies as well as performance details. The full report can be found online at clark.wa.gov/media/document/131106.
The total report is 29 pages. They use a traffic light color concept to “signal” the condition of the financial area: Green is good, yellow is mixed and red is cause for concern. Today, I would like to focus on pages three and four.
Why is this information important for you to understand? It tells you how well (or not) your county government is guiding the ship. You may hear comments about how government is bloated or spending is out of control or taxes are too high. This information will help you understand what’s really going on and separate truth from fiction.
This data covers the period of 2012 to 2021 thus the “trend monitoring” in the title.
Tax revenue per capita (each person), adjusted for inflation and population, has been in the range of $391 to $421 a year. Unadjusted tax revenue per capita has grown from $313 in 2012 to $421 in 2021. (In 2021, it requires $1.29 to buy what $1 did in 2012.)
Analysis and thoughts
It’s been said by some that the county government is bloated, has too many employees and is inefficient. Based on this report it appears that’s not the case. The facts appear to show a well-run ship with a belt that’s pretty tight.
Is there room for further improvement? If the inflation rate continues at the present levels (plus 15% in the last two years) and given the county has only used the annual allowed 1% property tax increase a few times in recent years, the belt will need to have a new hole punched. The real question may be how well they can manage costs and provide services in the face of hyperinflation.
We need to be constantly on the lookout for efficiencies, ways to minimize costs and operate effectively. We also need to acknowledge good performance and recognize those who help make the county work. You be the judge.
Dick Rylander is currently the county councilor for District 5, which covers North Clark County. He was appointed to the position on May 3, 2022. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. These are his thoughts and comments and may not represent the council or Clark County.
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