Even without any additional programs or spending initiatives built in, the 2023 budget for Douglas County looks like it will see an increase in the expenses column; the preliminary numbers that were reviewed by the Administration Committee plan for an 11% increase in expenses.

At the bottom line, the 2023 budget for the county is projected to be $65.7 million, with revenue and expenses balancing out.  But that balance required a bit of work to get there.

Just like other entities - personal and government, Douglas County is facing the realities of the current economy. And that includes the rising costs of items like wages, health care, and liability insurance.

To accomplish a balanced budget, the government leaders worked on ways to accommodate the rising costs without 'breaking the bank'.  An article in the Superior Telegram [paywall] lays out the process they took and how they eventually came up with their numbers.  And while there "will be no additional staff or new initiatives in Douglas County government services next year", that doesn't mean that the county won't be meeting their commitments.

As part of the process, the county reviewed all items in the budget to make sure that the cost-increases were funded:

"The additional costs created a $740,000 expenditure gap that was closed by cutting miscellaneous expenses, eliminating new or expanded positions, and decreasing contracted services."

It's worth noting, though, that the projected 11% increase in expenses won't necessarily translate into a property tax increase for homeowners.  Douglas County Administrator Ann Doucette explains:

"...with [an] almost 15% growth in the county's valuation....the county's average tax rate will fall below $4 per $1,000 property value for the first time in more than a decade and many could still see their taxes go down in 2023."

While the 2023 budget has been drafted, it's still not official. The next step will involved a review by the Douglas County Board at their next meeting on October 25.

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