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Panel to scrutinize Island County budget

Two former county commissioners are among the members of a citizen financial review committee charged with scrutinizing Island County’s five-year budget projection.

The seven members of the committee will begin meeting in April. It will probably take about four meetings, which haven’t been schedule yet, for the group to look over the county’s budget numbers, assumptions and projections. The meetings will be open to the public.

The group will give the county commissioners an opinion on whether budget estimates are realistic.

“They will scrub the numbers in our five-year projection,” Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said. “We want to make sure we are looking at this with the best numbers we can.”

In February, Budget Director Elaine Marlow presented the commissioners with a dismal five-year projection that shows reserve funds dwindling to levels that could create cash flow problems in just a year or two.

Price Johnson said the commissioners brought together a cross section of people with experience in both government and private sector budgets for the committee.

The members are as follows:

• Former Republican County Commissioner Dwain Colby, who served two terms in the 1990s. He is a retired marine and lives on Camano Island.

• Former Democratic County Commissioner Bill Thorn, a Camano Island resident, who served one term that ended in 2002. He continues to serve on senior services and work force boards.

• Neil Colburn, who was mayor of Langley for four years and served on the Langley City Council for 14 years. He owned Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe for 25 years.

• Ed Van Patten, who is a Port of Coupeville commissioner and a financial adviser for local nonprofit groups. He had a 20-year career in the Navy, mostly in the areas of financial management, budgeting, accounting and auditing. He then worked as a bank president, comptroller and college instructor.

• Jim Bird, who is an Oak Harbor resident and special assets vice president for North County Bank.

• Vicky Brown, who owns Little Brown Farm in Freeland. Her previous career was as a corporate CFO and HR director for several corporations, including RosArt Multimedia, and Tax Compliance, Inc.

• Chris Richards, who lives on Camano Island and is property tax supervisor for King County Treasury Operations.

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