Washington County to tighten budget due to inflationary pressures – St George News


ST. GEORGE- Citing the challenges inflation has posed to the county and its residents while contemplating a potential recession that some parties say has already begun, the Washington County Commission on Tuesday passed a resolution outlining ways it plans to tighten the budget while striving to maintain the level of services provided by the county.

Washington County Commission Chairman Victor Iverson discusses the strain inflation is putting on county government and county residents, St. George, Utah, September 6, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“All is well now, but we see storm clouds on the horizon,” Washington County Commission Chairman Victor Iverson said.

Like those who live in the county, Iverson said the county government has to deal with the inflated costs of goods and services. He also noted inflationary pressure on county employees and the need to offer competitive wages.

Before the resolution was read and voted on, Iverson said the commission met with other county elected officials and department heads about ways to save money and cut back where possible.

“It’s about getting our house in order,” he said.

According to the resolution read by Iverson, inflation in the United States has almost quadrupled in the past two years, the annual inflation rate reached 9.1% in June, energy prices increased by 42% and food prices have risen by more than 10%. Each category is the highest since the early 1980s.

The resolution also said the U.S. economy had contracted for the second straight quarter, “what some believe is evidence that the country is in economic recession or soon will be,” Iverson read.

The resolution went on to outline the following steps the county government is taking to maintain the level of service it provides to residents while reducing its own costs.

  • Maintain adequate monetary reserves.
  • Analyze all expenses and reduce unnecessary costs.
  • Forgo projects that would increase debt.
  • Support and maintain staff and employee levels to the extent possible to avoid increased economic hardship by any recession on county residents.
  • Ensure that county services are provided only as permitted by state law.
  • Repair and maintain existing equipment for as long as possible to avoid unnecessary replacements.

Tuesday’s resolution is a starting point in the county government’s efforts to cut spending, Commissioner Adam Snow said, adding that every elected official and employee is urged to cut where they can.

Snow shared the example of an employee who found a way to save on pens used by his department by finding a cheaper supplier.

In this file photo, Washington County Commissioner Adam Snow explains how the commission is working with county department and office heads to determine budget priorities, St. George, Utah, November 16, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Washington County/CEC, St. George News

“It may not seem like a lot, but a lot of small amounts can be a lot of money,” Snow said.

While there was talk of staying competitive with wages for county employees, Iverson and other commissioners said it would be done without raising taxes. As mentioned in the resolution, the commission does not want to add to the pressure county residents are already under due to inflation.

The county will be looking to raise county wages, and while that’s easy to say, Snow said the process to get there is a bit more complicated and hasn’t been finalized.

Another way for county departments to cut costs is to not fill certain positions if an employee retires or finds a new job. If a department is able to maintain the same level of service without this additional body, that department will do so, Commissioner Gil Almquist said.

“We are reducing where we can,” he said.

While all departments and offices will be subject to budget restrictions and budget cuts, the commissioners said the areas that absolutely must maintain their level of service were the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Search and Rescue Team. county rescue.

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