The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

County budget: Good revenues and a suggestion for the Cathlamet library building


November 1, 2018

Wahkiakum county officials this week wrapped up initial steps in preparing their preliminary budgets for 2019.

County commissioners met with department heads and others to go over requests line by line.

Officials usually express concern that revenue for the Current Expense Fund, which finances most courthouse offices, will be insufficient, but this year they’re saying the picture looks promising.

In the past couple years, the county commission has diverted funds from the County Road Levy to Current Expense to cover shortfalls, but that shouldn’t be necessary in 2019, Commissioner Blair Brady said.

The county should receive $1.2 million in revenue from the sale of state managed county trust timber, Treasurer Tammy Peterson said.

The timber revenue is a major funding source for Current Expense. Officials had budgeted $1.1 million for 2018, but actual revenue will total $2 million, Peterson said, along with another distribution for timber on land locked up from harvest by Endangered Species Act rules.

A request from the Town of Cathlamet for $10,000 to support the municipal library generated a wide ranging discussion.

Librarian Carol Blix said that without the appropriation, the library will have to raise the cost of library cards and do without some needed improvements and services.

County patrons hold 267 of the library’s 489 active cards, 54 percent she said. The town spent nearly $40,000 to staff, support and maintain the library. The county has supported the library financially in the past but made no appropriation this year.

Commissioner Mike Backman said he hoped the Cathlamet library would use part of a $10,000 appropriation to reorganize services in the library building. On the top floor, it houses the library, and on the bottom floor are the Community Center and Town of Cathlamet archives.

Backman said he’d like to see all community center activities move to the county’s Hope Center adjacent to Wendt Elementary School and see the library use the community center space for expanded services.

The community center space is inadequate for parking and access, he said; it functions as a free coffee shop across the street from a commercial coffee shop.

“Talk to the city council,” Commissioner Dan Cothren commented.

Responding to Backman, Blix said expanded services would require more management time, an added expense.

Discussion continued and turned to the possibility of forming a county-wide library district, possibly in conjunction with Timberlands Regional Library which serves Pacific and other counties.

“I especially like the idea of creating a library district county wide,” Brady said. “That’s an idea for the future.”

Blix said he has consulted with Timberlands about the issue, and “they’re not interested,” she said. “They feel it would be a cost liability.”

“It would take a lot of selling (to win voter approval),” Brady said.

“At this time, we don’t have the time and money for it,” Blix said.


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