Managing Tax Dollars the Right Way
I’ve long maintained that government agencies should manage taxpayer dollars the same way individuals and households manage their finances.
As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I take this fiduciary duty very seriously. I have to live within my means as a private citizen, and I’ve used this philosophy to help shape the approach I take to the county’s budget.
It’s the same approach I took when I served in the Legislature as a member of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. Even back then, many lawmakers thought that if there wasn’t enough revenue to fund every last thing they wanted the state government to do, the answer was to raise taxes. Unfortunately, that has been the prevailing mentality in Salem for many years now. The result has been higher taxes and inadequate services.
That was also what the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners was doing until I took over as chair last year. I watched as the county’s budgets grew bloated and unsustainable and knew that residents would not be well-served by it over the long-term. It’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to run for the chair position in the 2020 primary election.
We’re now facing a difficult situation as a nation. The fact is, the economy goes through cycles of boom and bust. It has shifted significantly over the last several months. We can all feel it in our wallets and every time we go to the store or to balance our checkbooks.
The worst inflation in four decades is hitting all of us, with the costs of essentials like food and gas soaring. Fiscal irresponsibility at the federal level and the disastrous result of those ill-advised policies have come home to roost.
Many Oregonians and Americans are having to tighten their belts and prioritize their spending. That’s why I feel it’s important that the government not try to increase the burdens on them and kick them while they’re down by raising their taxes.
When I started working on the county’s budget, I set about making sure that it would stand up in good times and bad. I was proactive in making sure it was based on sound financial principles in case we went into a recession.
The fiscal year 2022-23 budget for Clackamas County was done in such a way that cuts to services should not be necessary to keep it balanced. Key services should be preserved in even the most dire of economic situations. That’s because we made it a point to not go on reckless spending sprees and focused on the areas that benefit our taxpayers the most.
We’re in for a rough ride, folks. Trillions of dollars have been borrowed, printed and spent. Interest rates have risen to try and combat the resulting inflation. The supply chain continues to face challenges.
Despite all of that, just remember that Clackamas County government won’t be compounding any financial problems you may be facing. I’ve made sure that the budget does not and will not rely on digging further into your pockets to maintain our operations.
I ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and have kept my promises to the voters of Clackamas County.