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Local Budgeting Manual, 150-504-420 - Oregon State Library - State ...

Local Budgeting Manual, 150-504-420 - Oregon State Library - State ...

Audits and reviews must

Audits and reviews must be made as directed by administrative rules adopted by the Secretary of State. The rules referring to reviews are known as “Minimum Standards for Reviews of Oregon Municipal Corporations.” These rules prescribe the financial statements that must be included in audit or review reports, the minimum procedures that must be followed, and the standards that must be followed in an audit or review. Copies of these rules may be obtained from the Secretary of State, Division of Audits, 255 Capitol Street NE, Suite 500, Salem OR 97310. Copies of all financial statements, whether unaudited, reviewed, or audited, must be filed with the Secretary of State. They are public records available for inspection by anyone who is interested. Copies of these reports may be obtained at a small charge. A filing fee must accompany all reports filed with the Secretary of State. The amount of the fee is set by law. It is determined by the amount of expenditures of the municipal corporation. The Division of Audits uses the filing fee to administer the Municipal Audit Law. The Division of Audits offers technical help in accounting and financial reporting. Address written inquiries to the Secretary of State, Division of Audits, 255 Capitol Street NE, Suite 500, Salem OR 97310. Tax Supervising and Conservation commissions Tax supervising and conservation commissions supervise local government budgeting and taxing activities. They are established under ORS 294.610, and are required in counties over 500,000 population. Currently, only Multnomah County has such a commission. The commission is directed by five commissioners appointed by the governor for four-year terms. They serve without compensation. The commission appoints administrative employees, and the attorney general serves as legal counsel. Operating expenses are limited by statute and are allocated through the county’s general fund. The commission’s functions are: 1. To encourage providing enough public funds to operate local governments efficiently. 2. To oversee compliance with laws governing local budgets, taxes, and public debt. 3. To schedule public hearings where citizens may express views on financial plans and taxes. 4. To publish for voters, taxpayers, and investors an annual comprehensive report of budgets and other financial information, and to maintain permanent records of indebtedness of all municipal corporations in the county. The commission reviews and certifies budgets from all units within its jurisdiction. Annual, biennial, and 4 supplemental budgets are reviewed: (1) for compliance with local finance laws, (2) to examine program content, (3) to judge whether estimates are reasonable, and (4) to coordinate financial planning among the various local governments. The commission must certify all budgets before adoption by the local governing bodies. The commission must also conduct hearings on budgets, local option taxes and bond proposals. These proposals must be discussed with governing bodies. It has authority to inquire into the management, accounts, and systems used by local governments. It may call a joint meeting of taxing bodies to discuss financial planning and cooperative ventures. The commission stresses continuing consultation with local officials to improve financial management systems. County Assessor’s Duties The county assessor is responsible for determining the value of the real and personal property in the county (ORS 308.232). The assessor is also responsible for applying any exemptions or special assessments that are allowed by law, such as for farmland. By July 15, the assessor receives local government tax certification and categorization forms. The assessor may grant a government an extension of time to file its tax and category notice if requested in writing. This is not an extension of time to adopt a budget. The extension cannot extend beyond October 1. The assessor is responsible for checking taxes to make sure they are legal. The assessor uses tax amounts certified by the district for exempt bonds and fixed-dollar local option levies to calculate tax rates for these levies (ORS 310.090). A tax rate is figured by dividing the levy amount by the assessed value of the district. The assessor is responsible for extending taxes to each taxable property within the county. The calculated tax rates and the district’s permanent rate limit for operations are applied to each property served by the district. If the amount of tax to be collected from a property in a category is more than the limits set in the constitution, the tax is reduced. Local option taxes are reduced first. If reducing the local option tax amount lowers the taxes to the limit for the category no further tax reduction is done. However, if reducing the local option taxes to zero does not reach the limit in a category, then the other tax amounts are reduced proportionately. After calculating the taxes to be imposed on all taxable property in the county, the assessor certifies the assessment and tax roll to the county clerk. The clerk issues a warrant to collect the taxes. The assessment and tax roll is then turned over to the tax collector.

County Tax Collector’s Duties The county tax collector is responsible for collection of property taxes. The tax collector issues the property tax statements and receives the payments. If taxpayers fail to pay on time, the collector computes the delinquent interest they owe. After taxes have been delinquent for four years, the tax collector begins foreclosure proceedings on the property. The tax collector prepares a tax percentage distribution schedule (ORS 311.390) from the information provided by the assessor. The schedule is prepared from the amount of tax to be imposed for each local government after the constitutional limits are applied. The distribution schedule is given to the county treasurer. County Treasurer’s Duties The treasurer distributes the tax money and the interest earned on it to the districts using the percentage distribution schedule (ORS 311.390). When taxes are paid, all districts will receive a proportionate share. All districts also share the loss when taxes are not paid or refunds are made. When disbursing tax moneys, the treasurer sends each district a statement showing the amount of taxes being distributed. The statement is broken down to show the amount of taxes collected for the current year and each previous year. Percentage schedules differ from year to year so all distributions must be made according to the schedule for the year to which the tax applies. 5 A local government may designate the county treasurer as the paying agent for its bonded debt (ORS 288.570). If it does, then the local government must furnish a copy of its budget and audit report to the county treasurer. Any tax collected for the local government to pay bonded debt is then transferred to the treasurer. The tax revenue is placed in a special account for paying principal and interest on the bonds. Interest earned in the account through investments is credited to the account. The treasurer then must send financial statements on the bond account to the local government. If the account is short of funds to make payments, the local government must transfer the needed funds to the treasurer to make up the shortfall. County Clerk’s Duties The county clerk is the official keeper of all public records for the county. The county clerk also is the chief elections official of the county. In this capacity, the clerk’s office must check ballot measures for timeliness and word count. The Department of Revenue can provide review of ballot measure wording to help ensure ballots follow election and tax laws. The district has the final responsibility for writing the ballot question. The names, telephone numbers, and addresses of county officials for most Oregon counties can be found through the individual county Web sites. A link to those counties that have Web sites can be found at www.state.or.us/local.

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