By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Deschutes County Administrator Tom Anderson says that while COVID-19 has had some effects, the county’s strong tax base and reserves have allowed it to remain in a strong financial position.
“Much of what we’ll be talking about this week with the budget committee is really the ongoing effects, and frankly we don’t know them all yet,” Anderson said.
Though Anderson says they’re still discussing what will happen if and when Deschutes county sees cuts in the future, the county is hoping to fund several projects with its proposed $500 million budget.
Projects include putting in roundabouts along Old-Bend Redmond Highway, reconstruction of 17th street in Redmond, and continue to help fund the county’s new Crisis Stabilization Center.
“We have enough funding from the county to operate Monday through Friday until 9 p.m.,” said Holly Harris, program manager for Deschutes County Health Services.
Funding from Central Oregon Health Council will allow the center to be open on the weekends through 9 p.m., and Harris says they are working on another grant that would allow them to stay open 24/7 by the fall.
“We’re doing a soft opening June 1st because COVID did set us back a little bit, not too bad considering what we’re dealing with,” said Harris. “But we were originally supposed to open May 1st.”
The immediate effects of COVID-19 have also been felt at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center, and event-related impacts will likely continue into next year.
The county also expects next year to see reductions in state and federal revenue which would affect health services and community justice.
“Certainly Fair and Expo was a department that got hit the soonest and the hardest by the pandemic,” Anderson said.
Anderson says that 80 to 90% of the fair and expo’s revenue comes from events.
With events canceled, the county is now hoping to avoid employee layoffs in the department.
“The budget committee will make a decision this week on if we’re able to subsidize that department and infuse reserve funds from elsewhere in order to keep the department whole,” Anderson said.
And if they can’t infuse those funds, Anderson says layoffs are possible.
“We’re hoping to avoid that, but we can never guarantee anything,” Anderson said.
The Budget Committee is expected to wrap up discussions by the end of the week with a new budget approved by mid-June.