Upon review of Whatcom County’s 2021-22 budget, the county found it received $4.8 million more in sales and property tax in 2021 than it expected when drafting its budget in 2020.
When Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu released a proposed $451.6 million budget for 2021-22 in October 2020, the county predicted a decline in its sales tax collections in 2021. In an effort to align spending with the expected revenue decrease, the county decreased its total expenditures by roughly 17 percent from the county’s amended 2020 budget.
The biggest cut in expenditures was in the “all other funds” category, much of which was due to a drop in the Covid-19 emergency response fund – supplemented by $13.1 million in CARES Act from the federal government in 2020. It also cut about $10 million from the county road fund.
After reviewing the biennium budget and general fund at the end of 2021, the county found it received $4.8 million more in tax revenue than anticipated, Sidhu wrote in an mid-biennium budget adjustment presented to Whatcom County Council. County administration also proposed budget adjustments for 2022.
Earlier in 2021, the county was allocated $44.5 million under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and an additional $17 million for rental and utility assistance, which was added as new fund accounts to the budget.
Administration also proposed adding a county buildings fund within the capital facilities fund that would accrue money annually to pay for new county facilities. Sidhu listed planning and development services, public works, sheriff’s office, a new justice and public safety facility, and a new 911 dispatch center as needed facilities.
County council amends the budget regularly throughout the year. Over 100 additional service requests were included in the mid-biennium adjustment. Most of those were related to decisions already taken by council, such as; returning frozen positions, affordable housing and public health projects.
Find more details on the county’s budget and planning process at bit.ly/3qfMAU2.
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