On May 23, the Marion County Budget Committee met to discuss the $689 million Fiscal Year 2023-24 proposed budget. The Marion County budget committee is made up of three county commissioners and three citizen electors. The budget committee approves the budget and refers the budget to the Board of Commissioners for final adoption prior to June 30th. In presenting the budget, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Jan Fritz stated that “The purpose of county government lies in the multitude of ways it touches the lives of our residents on a daily basis.”
This year’s budget message renewed the county’s continued commitment to its mission statement — We serve the public to protect, promote, and enhance a positive quality of life. After the past few years of navigating the pandemic, responding to devastating wildfires, ice storms, and helping our communities, this year’s budget shows the people of Marion County we are here for them.
The FY 2023-24 approved budget funds the county’s core responsibilities and invests in the services our communities need to be safe, healthy, and thrive. The budget, which takes effect July 1, covers more than 600 pages, totals $688,873,465 million and includes 1,673 employees. Commissioner Danielle Bethell said “As we see budgets across the state increasing and going into the red our county’s budget passed without reducing services to the public. This is pretty incredible and I’m proud of our department heads, elected officials, and our county administrative officer. We put the people of Marion County first every day, while not overburdening them with new fees and taxes.”
This year’s budget includes $12 million for a new wildfire housing program. The commissioners secured funding from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department to assist the remaining wildfire survivors in rebuilding their homes and returning them to pre-fire status. The budget also includes $1.6 million for park restoration so that when the parks reopen in the fall people can enjoy them. The parks that were destroyed by the 2020 wildfires have been a priority for the county. Commissioner Kevin Cameron said “it’s important that these parks get rebuilt as quickly as possible, while ensuring they are safe for our community. They should be a place where people can recreate and create memories with their friends and families.”
76 percent of the Marion County general fund goes to public safety. This includes the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorneys Office, Justice Court, and the Juvenile Department. Commissioner Colm Willis said, “I’m encouraged that with this budget were making significant investments in our public safety system and continuing to ensure the people of Marion County are safe and secure.” Marion County is known for its innovative approaches to community policing and reducing recidivism. The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD) brings together the sheriff’s office and social services to help low-level, repeat offenders get on a straight path and stay on it.
CAO Jan Fritz said “The County is on solid financial footing and the FY 2023-24 budget is balanced and financially sound. As a county we believe public service is a great honor and we look forward to serving our community in the year ahead.”
The Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing to consider the FY 2023-24 budget as part of its regular board session on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Senator Hearing Room at Courthouse Square located at 555 Court St. NE, Salem. The full budget is available for review on the county website at www.co.marion.or.us/FIN/budget.