With Wallowa County having published its user-friendly 2007-2008 budget as an insert in last week's issue of the Chieftain, all that remains in the budgeting process is a final public hearing.

The public's last chance to formally comment on the county's $14.2 million budget is at a hearing Friday, June 29, at 10 a.m. in the courthouse. While budget hearings have not traditionally garnered much if any comments, since the county started publishing its budget in a more readable format, a few people usually do call up the commissioners by phone to say something about it, said board chairman Mike Hayward.

"It has worked because people are more inclined to read it," Hayward said of the new format.

Commissioner Ben Boswell spearheaded the user-friendly format of the published budget a few years back after he took notice that the county had typically published its budget with just a string of seemingly meaningless and unexplained numbers, Hayward said. "Most people don't know what (county) programs do. They have a snapshot rather than a movie. I think this helps that."

Of the $14.2 million budget, the general fund budget was $4 million with $1.2 predicted to come from property tax. The overall budget was reduced by $1.13 million.

Residential property taxes accounted for 40.7 percent of the total property tax revenues, while farm and forest lands brought in 24.3 percent of property taxes, commercial/industrial land 12.6 percent, 12.7 percent for recreational properties and 9.7 percent for properties designated to utilities.

At $6.4 million, the beginning fund balance made up 48 percent of the county's revenues, while grants accounted for 15 percent of the budget, fees made up 12 percent, property taxes 9 percent, and state and federal revenues were 5 percent, contracts were 5 percent.

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