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

Commission OK's budgets, acts on other matters


December 20, 2018

Wahkiakum County commissioners raised taxes and adopted the 2019 budget when they met this Tuesday.

Commissioners also discussed county fair funding, information technology support, and a variety of Health and Human Services issues.

While the board raised taxes, it wasn't a big enough increase that taxpayers are likely to notice. The increase was for the 1 percent allowed under state law without having to seek voter approval.

The increase in the county General Fund, County Road, and Emergency Medical Services levies will generate about $10,000, said Assessor Bill Coons.

“If we didn’t take it, people in Olympia would say we’re not using all the tools available to us, so why do we need more [state] revenue,” explained Commissioner Blair Brady.

During the meeting’s time for public comment, Skamokawa resident Kay Walters, a member of the county fair board, said that board members discovered last week that the commission’s 2019 budget for the fair actually reduces funding for the work by the fair manager. Last week, Walters had pressed the board to increase that funding so that the manager could help with the fair board’s fund raising activities.

Commissioners said they didn’t know anything about such a decrease, but the situation could be remedied in 2019 with a budget amendment.

“How a reduction occurred, I do not know,” Brady said. “We said we’d resolve it.”

Auditor Nicci Bergseng commented that the cash on hand number in the fair’s budget request had been incorrect, and her office had adjusted numbers in the fair budget.

“I don’t recall that we cut back any hours,” she said.

“This is a conversation you and Nicci can have after this meeting,” Brady said to Walters, and the board moved to other business.

The board tabled action on a proposed three-year contract for Information Technology maintenance and support with More Power Technology group, which has provided the service for several years.

The $426,096 price tag caught the commission’s eye.

In response to a question from Brady, IT Manager Josh Holt said the contract included an increase of approximately $3,000 per month.

A More Power representative said the increase was driven by the need for increased security.

“Can we hold off and compare [with other providers],” Brady asked. “Give a break down to my seatmates. That’s a huge jump.”

Commissioners Dan Cothren and Mike Backman agreed and tabled the matter to a later date.

Commissioners acted on a variety of matters for the county Health and Human Services (H&HS) Department, including accepting a $10,000 grant for prevention of tobacco and vapor product use among youth.

The funding would be an addition to county programs, said H&HS Director Chris Bischoff; there is no county match required.

Tobacco use is declining among youth, Bischoff said, but vaping use is increasing rapidly despite vaping’s nicotine addiction and health risks.

“One of the misconceptions that’s out there is that it’s safe,” he said. “There are almost no regulations on preparation of the liquids. People mix it up in their garages. You don’t know what’s in there.”


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