Introducing “The Hub”
UACnet.org has a new section for you to explore. It’s titled Data Hub and it includes a complete index of Counties by the Numbers articles as well as all sorts of data on issues such as County Budgets, Demographics, Property Taxes, and Public Safety (to name a few). The Data Hub also includes links to every Utah Counties Fact Book from its first publication in 2002.
“The Hub” (as I have just now nicknamed it) will continually be growing with new articles and data added to it regularly. We hope it will provide a valuable resource for county officials and citizens alike. If you’d like to see anything in particular added to the Hub (it’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think?), please let me know.
To celebrate the launch of the Hub (admit it, it’s growing on you), I thought it would be appropriate to comb through our back catalog of County Fact Books for today’s Counties by the Numbers article.
Change to County Revenues and Expenditures
Today we’re considering the change to county revenues and expenditures over a 15-year period of time. For a county government official, 15 years is a lifetime—nearly four election cycles! It should be no surprise, then, that a lot has changed in county budgets between 2001 and 2015. In 2001, total county revenues in the State of Utah were $974,300,511 and total county expenditures were $950,939,043. In 2015, total revenues were $2,092,325,446 and total expenditures were $2,082,073,158. Both revenues and expenditures more than doubled over those years. (This data comes from annual county financial statements.) Table 1 shows the growth to revenues and expenditures over these years.
It’s interesting to look closer at the revenue and expenditure categories. First, let’s consider revenue categories. Revenues have doubled without much help from licenses and permits and fines and forfeitures—in fact, licenses and permits actually decreased over the 15-year period. Taxes have accounted for the majority of revenue growth—a whopping 73 percent of the total growth!
It is interesting to look at expenditure categories as well. Highway and public improvement became much more of a priority to counties over the 15-year period. Look for that trend to continue as more dedicated funding for roads are accounted for based on an increase to the motor fuel tax imposed in the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions. Another expenditure you can count on growing in the years following 2015 is public health. With the advent of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and additional state appropriations, expenditures to public health will undoubtedly increase.
Of course the 15 years captured in our study includes a number of major events that would have affected county revenues (and, consequently, county expenditures). Events like the housing bubble, the great recession of 2008-2009, and other events meant that county revenues and expenditures did not simply grow in a straight line. Table 2 shows county revenue and expenditure growth broken up into 5-year segments.
According to table 2, it looks like the years immediately following the great recession have been those where county revenues have seen the most robust growth. They have also been the only years where revenue growth has overtaken expenditure growth. These are both positive signs for the future of Utah’s counties.
If you have a subject you’d like UAC to explore in a future Counties by the Numbers article, please email Arie Van De Graaff at firstname.lastname@example.org.