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Ada County close to finalizing 2024 budget, commissioners deny most new personnel requests

A screenshot of the three Ada County Commissioners on a blue background with the words "FY24 Budget Presentations"
Ada County Commissioners YouTube

The Ada County Board of Commissioners is moving forward with next year’s proposed budget.

County Clerk Trent Tripple provided a breakdown in a public hearing Tuesday evening showing a 2.3% increase in property tax revenue next year. When combined with the county’s special taxing districts like EMS and mosquito abatement, the amount of property taxes collected in 2024 would increase about $7 million from this year.

Tripple assured commissioners it won’t all come from homeowners because home values are falling.

“The tax burden has shifted slightly from residential homeowners to commercial properties. What that means is that the average homeowner in Ada County will probably receive somewhere around a 12% reduction in their taxes this coming year,” he said during the hearing. That figure applies only to Ada County's property tax collections and does not include special taxing districts, or property taxes collected by local municipalities or school districts.

Department and sales tax revenue next year is also expected to increase by a combined $8.4 million.

Most of the new revenue the county plans to take in will cover inflation-related cost increases for service contracts and consumables like food and energy. The county is only adding 13 new positions next year - all but three are funded by internal budget adjustments.

The county instead prioritized cost of living raises for employees: Salary costs next year will be $22 million more than the current year, reflecting, in part, the trio of new positions and a 3% pay increase for existing staff.

But that doesn’t mean County departments didn’t ask for more personnel. Ada County Sheriff Matt Clifford in June effectively told commissioners, ‘sorry but not sorry,’ during his budget request which included a dozen new positions requiring new funding. Three additional new full-time positions he requested would be funded internally.

Clifford in June said each need was directly related to Ada County’s recent population growth. By percentage, Boise suburbs Star and Kuna are among the state’s fastest-growing cities. His requests included five more 911 operators, two new deputies and multiple new training deputies and leadership officers.

“The better trained we can have our people, the less [sic] we stay out of the news,” Clifford quipped to commissioners in a budget deliberation hearing. Chairman Rod Beck responded, “Well, that's good to stay out of the news.”

Despite that sentiment, Commissioners were not swayed, denying all but five new positions including the three that were internally funded. New money will be used to hire two new 911 dispatch operators.

Several other county departments had requests for unfunded new staff denied as well.

“We're really getting to the point where if we want to add these new positions, we’ve got to raise taxes,” Commissioner Ryan Davidson said before the trio voted on each individual personnel request. “I think that's something we have to keep in mind.”

Davidson at that June hearing challenged Clifford and the Sheriff’s staff to dive back into the budget to see if other internal cuts could be made to accommodate new staff, but the budget presented to commissioners this week did not have any changes from what was determined last month.

Citizens can take as deep a dive as they’d like using the budget explorer on the Ada County website. Archived hearings available on the county’s YouTube channel.

The Board of Commissioners will have a final deliberation and vote on the proposed budget next Tuesday.

This story has been updated to more accurately reflect that the 12% reduction in property taxes most county homeowners will see next year is only based on Ada County's operational property tax collection and does not include special taxing districts.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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