During his tenure on the County Council, Councilmember Nehring has made fiscal responsibility one of his main policy priorities. Snohomish County collects hundreds of millions of tax dollars every year and ensuring they are spent wisely on core functions of County government is important.
Councilmember Nehring has approached each County budget with a focus on fiscal responsibility. Read more about these priorities below.
Targeted Budget Reductions
Fiscal responsibility doesn’t just include opposing tax increases. It also means identifying budget cuts to make up for other spending increases or declining revenue. Councilmember Nehring has made it a priority to annually identify projects, programs, or staff positions that are not necessary for the core functions of county government and propose cutting those items rather than increasing taxes.
These targeted reductions help to ensure that the County operates with a balanced budget, matching ongoing expenditures to ongoing revenues, so that we avoid running operational deficits. This is not only fiscally responsible but gives predictability for the County’s ongoing finances.
Opposing Tax Increases
State law allows local governments to increase their property tax levies up to 1% every year. Councilmember Nehring has opposed these increases since he joined the Council in 2017. Rather than increasing the tax burden on Snohomish County residents, he has proposed targeted budget reductions to ensure that the County continues to fund core services without raising taxes.
Councilmember Nehring also opposed the Council action to increase sales tax in Snohomish County for affordable housing projects. This action, taken in 2021, raises the Snohomish County sales tax another 1/10 of 1%, generating millions of dollars per year for construction and operation of subsidized housing and behavioral health facilities. Councilmember Nehring proposed that a tax increase like this should go to the voters to make the decision. This proposal was defeated and the Council implemented the increase without a vote of the public.
Preparing for the Future
To make sure that the County can continue to provide core services during times of declining revenue or unanticipated expenditures, Councilmember Nehring has advocated for increasing the County’s revenue stabilization fund (or “Rainy Day Fund”). Over the past 5 years, this account was unfunded in 2017 and now has over $12 million in 2022. A healthy balance in this fund will help the County address unanticipated needs in the future.
Similarly, Councilmember Nehring has supported budgets which ensure a sufficient fund balance in the County’s general fund. This fund balance not only ensures the County meets its liquidity needs for paying bills but also helps the County’s bond rating. This high bond rating means the County can borrow funds for large projects at a lower interest rate, saving taxpayers money.