County takes money from solid waste reserve

To fatten this year’s pinched budget, Island County Commissioners approved on Monday a funds transfer from the Solid Waste Department reserves into the county’s coffers.

The resolution, originally proposed by Commissioner Bill Thorn, moves 50 percent of the interest earned by Solid Waste’s $4.5 million Working Capital Reserve into the county’s Current Expense fund. The chunk of money being diverted is computed and accumulated monthly at the interest rate received from the state’s Investment Pool, which pegged at 2.3 percent in December.

Budget Director Elaine Marlowe said on Wednesday that she has budgeted somewhere around $55,000 in interest earnings from Solid Waste reserves to the county’s Current Expense fund for this year.

This diversion of funds is temporary though indefinite. The reason no time limit was set, said Marlowe, is that such a move avoids the necessity of passing yet another resolution.

Thorn on Tuesday said that he had originally suggested the board approve a transfer of the whole shebang.

“In the course of the budget process,” he said, “I had proposed that we take 100 percent of the interest from the Solid Waste fund into current expense.” The board compromised at half that amount.

Thorn pointed out that the potential “downside” of taking money out of the reserve is that garbage tipping fees would be increased, which he added isn’t likely to happen at this point.

“We looked at that, and it’s not a big deal,” Thorn said. “It’s a trivial impact in this instance.”

Thorn added that such funds transfers, which are allowed under state law, are not unusual.

“It was a very reasonable thing to do,” he added.

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