Budget Q&A

Q:

How much is the 2019 Expenditure Budget?


A:

The total 2019 Budget is $124,475,291. The total budget is divided between two different categories: 1) the General Fund (Current Expense) and, 2) Other Funds. The General Fund portion of the budget, which is the county’s primary fund that accounts for current government operations, totals $39,470,957. The Other Funds portion of the budget totals $85,004,334. Other Funds include dollars that are restricted in the manner and/or purpose in which they can be spent by either RCW or grant guidelines, etc.

Q:

Where does the county get money to provide public services?


A:

The County gets revenue from a variety of sources. Property taxes, sales taxes, real estate excise taxes, fuel taxes, and timber taxes are the main sources of revenue. State and federal revenues are mainly grants from the state and federal government. Other revenue sources include permit fees, court fines, payments for licenses, and other goods and services.

Q:

What is the Current Expense Fund?


A:

The Current Expense Fund, also referred to as the General Fund, is the county’s primary fund that accounts for current government operations. This fund is used to account for all resources not required to be accounted for in another fund. Current Expense is comprised of 31 separate budgets and supports departments and offices such as the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), Auditor, Treasurer, Sheriff, Jail, Prosecutor, District and Superior Courts, General Administration of the county, and many other activities for which another type of fund is not required.

Q:

What are Other Funds?


A:

Other Funds include dollars that are restricted in the manner and/or purpose in which they can be spent either by RCW or grant guidelines, etc. Herein lies the key distinction between these funds and departments in the Current Expense/General Fund. The Other Funds category, include special revenue, debt service, capital projects, enterprise, and internal service funds.

Q:

Where does the majority of the county budget go?


A:

Budget Chart

Q:

How is the budget developed?


A:

State law establishes the general requirements of Lewis County’s budget process. By law, many revenues must be spent in specific ways. This limits how the County can spend or cut costs to balance the budget. The County Manager facilitates development of the budget. All department heads and elected officials develop and submit their budget requests by early August. After their requests are reviewed, The County Manager submits a Preliminary Budget to the Board of Lewis County Commissioners (BOCC) in early October. From there, the BOCC meets with each department director and elected official to discuss their respective preliminary budgets. Two public hearings and one evening presentation are held prior to adoption of the Final Budget. Department and elected official preliminary budget requests are published on the county website and made available to any citizen upon request. The Auditor's Office maintains legal responsibility and authority for overseeing and controlling the expenditure of money once it has been budgeted by the BOCC.

Q:

What opportunities do citizens have to influence the county budget?


A:

Public meetings are held throughout September and October and the first Monday in December as well as an opportunity to comment on the budget during an evening presentation in mid-November. The Board of County Commissioners meet at 10:00 A.M. every Monday morning except for holidays in the Historic Courthouse located at 351 N.W. North St. in Chehalis. Information is also available in the Budget Department located in the Historic Courthouse in Chehalis.

Q:

How is the county organized?


A:

The voters of Lewis County elect 15 officials, including three county commissioners, three Superior Court judges, two District Court Judges, an Assessor, a Treasurer, an Auditor, a Prosecuting Attorney, a Sheriff, a Coroner and a County Clerk.

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) appointed a County Manager in August of 2018, the Directors and administrators report to the County Manager, administrators and directors oversee several county departments, including Information Technology, Community Development, and Central Services, which includes Facilities and the Southwest Washington Fair. Emergency Services includes, E-911 Communication, Radio Services and Emergency Management. Other departments under the BOCC include Public Health and Environmental Services, Human Resources, Risk Management, Public Works, WSU Extension and Weed Control Services.

Q:

Is the County's budget balanced?


A:

The County Budget is balanced using funds held in reserve as needed. The reserve fund is comprised of revenues received in previous years. In order to maintain a fiscally sound budget and appropriate fund balance, the preliminary budget is balanced using cash reserves (working capital). The actual ending fund balance may be different if revenues or expenditures differ from current projections.