County commission holds hearing on 2019 budgets
December 6, 2018
Wahkiakum County commissioners held a public hearing on proposed 2019 budgets Monday and addressed other business at their regular weekly meeting on Tuesday.
Commissioners will take final action on the budgets later this month.
Revenue for 2019 will be tight, as it has been the past few years, commissioners said.
“It’s in the tank,” Commissioner Dan Cothren said of predicted revenue during the Monday meeting.
The Current Expense Fund, which finances most courthouse offices and expenditures, depends on revenue from the harvest of timber on state managed county trust land, and Cothren and Commissioner Blair Brady both commented that the prices on the timber market are falling.
Earlier this year, the board approved salary and wage increases of 2 percent for county employees.
Otherwise, “We’ve held the line because we know next year will be bad,” Brady said.
The budget will contain funding for hiring new sheriff’s deputies. Undersheriff Gary Howell said officers have retired or left for other positions; the department will hire one trained deputy and send two to the basic law enforcement academy.
Puget Island resident Sylvia Costich urged the board to update the county comprehensive plan to include currently anticipated capital projects. The county’s comprehensive plan was written in 1985 and hasn’t been updated since then.
Having projects listed in the comprehensive and Capital Projects plans allows the county to seek grant funding, which often depends on having the desired projects listed specifically.
Otherwise, she said, money from the Capital Projects fund can’t be used for desired purposes, such as supporting broadband internet service in the county.
“We can use other funds,” Cothren countered.
“We’ll look at it,” said commission Chair Mike Backman.
Kay Walters urged the board to increase funding for the manager of the county fair. More hours are needed, she said, so the manager can support fund raising activities of the fair board and separate fair association to make the fair self supporting.