A public hearing for the 2020-21 Douglas County budget proceeded relatively quietly Wednesday, with just one member of the public commenting on it.

John Hunter of Tenmile questioned the level of drug and alcohol treatment funding. He also raised questions about spending on county-owned land.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the budget at next Wednesday’s regular meeting at 9 a.m. in the Douglas County Courthouse, 1036 SE Douglas Ave., Roseburg.

The budget is similar to the 2019-20 budget, with expenditures of $164.23 million and 527.75 full-time equivalent staff members. That’s a slight spending decrease of $547,112 and the addition of 3.63 full-time equivalent employees.

Hunter brought up the $110,000 budgeted for the Drug Abuse Prevention Fund and said it was not nearly enough money for the county to spend on drug abuse prevention.

Commissioner Chris Boice said that budget item involves a specific use of state and federal funds. The proposed budget document shows the $110,000 pays for services provided by Adapt.

Boice also said that money is just one piece of the millions of dollars spent in Douglas County on drug abuse prevention.

“I don’t know that there’s enough money to solve that problem, to be honest with you, but we’re working diligently on it,” Boice said.

Hunter also raised concerns about the County Forest Management Fund, a $9.6 million budget that includes 4.15 employees.

Hunter questioned why the budget was so large for a fund with so few employees.

“I’d really like to get some answers as to where is this located and what do these people do. That is an awful lot of money,” he said.

Boice said the department was at one time overseen by Gary Groth, who served simultaneously as director of the Douglas County Parks Department and the Land Department. Since then, he said, the employees have been divided up and placed in other departments.

“Those employees are still here doing that work, it’s just that we don’t have one single department that they work out of anymore,” he said.

Rocky Houston took over the Parks Department following Groth’s retirement in 2016, and he initially wore both hats as well.

Budget documents show the Land Department was split up in 2018. After that, the real property officer was overseen by the chief financial officer, the administrative assistant by the building facilities director and the county forester by the planning director.

That pattern held in the next two years, but in the 2021 budget, the administrative assistant has been moved back under the parks director, with 15% of his salary covered in the Forest Management Fund budget. A second county forester has also been added to the 2021 budget.

The budget documents show that personnel costs are $430,539.

The total budget includes $8.8 million carried over from the previous year, an amount that’s remained high because of dollars from large timber sales in previous years that haven’t been spent. The main source of new revenue is anticipated timber sales of $440,000.

The bulk of the expenses outlined in the budget is a $3 million capital outlay for land. Boice told The News-Review that’s a placeholder in the budget, not yet assigned to any particular purchase.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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