Skagit County approves 2018 operating budget

(MOUNT VERNON)- Skagit County formally approved its 2018 operating budget on Monday. The Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to pass the $209.2 million budget.

The approved 2018 budget represents a 7.3 percent decrease from the 2017 budget, due in part to completion of the Community Justice Center construction in 2017. The 2018 budget adds 7 full-time positions, and includes a 1 percent property tax increase to the County’s general fund levy, as well as an anticipated 1.5 percent increase in sales tax collections.

The Board of Commissioners also passed resolutions adopting the 2018 Central Valley Ambulance Authority budget, and property tax limit factor increases for the road, conservation futures, and emergency medical services levies.

Significant budget highlights for 2018 include investments in the Community Justice Center, inclusion of a housing specialist to support the county’s ongoing work to address homelessness and lack of affordable housing, continued construction of the new Burlington Northern overpass on Old Highway 99 north of Cook Road, and design investments toward replacement of the Guemes Island Ferry.

The general fund, which supports 27 County departments and most regional services, accounts for roughly 25 percent of the total budget, or $56.2 million. The remaining 75 percent of the budget comes from a combination of special revenue, debt service and capital funds. The County also retains a 16.7 percent general fund reserve, or roughly $9.4 million.