News

County tweaks budget with amendment

Island County Budget Director Elaine Marlow said the county budget is on target, but they still need to hold a public hearing next month to approve amending the 2003-2004 budget to allow for unforeseen expenditures and additional revenues.

The expenditures range from $3,832 for flood lights and minor repairs at the Family Resource Center in Oak Harbor, to a $714,000 transfer to the Juvenile Detention Center fund.

Marlow said the county has approximately $2 million in the fund balance, which is intended for just such purposes.

“This group of commissioners have built up (county finances) during the good times, and that will help us through the tough times,” she said.

Marlow said it’s common to dip into a county’s fund balance reserve, as the main source of revenue is the twice-yearly collection of property taxes.

In December county commissioners approved a 1 percent property tax increase in order to balance the budget.

Commissioner Mac McDowell said at that time that the increase was needed to keep pace with escalating labor costs, such as a 23 percent increase in insurance premiums.

Marlow said the biggest issue in the 2003 budget is labor negotiations, with two contracts still to go with the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild and the prosecuting attorney’s Teamsters Union.

Dick Toft, Human Resources director, said negotiations with the prosecuting attorney’s union are almost complete, and they expect to be sitting down with the deputies soon. Toft anticipates it will be a four- to six-month process to hammer out a three year contract.

While the county laid off 13 people in 2002 to balance the budget, this year has seen a few positions reinstated or created.

“We’re in a wait and see mode right now,” Toft said. He noted that the county currently has 11 positions advertised, and has received more than 420 applications.

“There are a lot of folks out there looking for work,” he said.

A new position of associate planner and enforcer was recently created, funded jointly by Public Works and the Planning Department.

Marlow said if Tim Eyman’s latest initiative to cut local property taxes by 25 percent, passes it would mean a $1.3 million to $1.4 million loss for Island County.

“2005 will be a real challenging year for us,” she said.

The public budget amendment hearing will be held April 19, 9:50 a.m. at the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Annex Building, 1 NE Sixth St., Coupeville.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.