County commission addresses budget, other county fair issues
February 28, 2019
Wahkiakum County fair board members visited the county board of commissioners Tuesday to press for adjustments to their 2019 budget.
The 2019 budget allocation reduced the number of hours the fair manager may work, and this hampers fair operations, said fair board member Becky Thacker.
There are other issues to address, Thacker and Kay Walters said. The small heaters in the office are inadequate in the recent cold weather, they said, and utility expenses are far beyond what was expected when the budget was set.
Wahkiakum PUD acquired the West Side Water Works, which supplies the fairgrounds, and the PUD raised rates. Formerly, the fair paid about $42 per month for water; now, under the PUD, the bill is $106 per month, Thacker said.
The fair has also been renting space to five RV's who are using extension cords to access electricity. Although the fair took in $5,600 in rental receipts in 2018, power costs are also a problem, Thacker and Walters said.
County Payroll Officer Kim Tracy said the fair manger, like other county employees, received two pay raises last year, and hours were reduced in the budget in order to match amounts put in the preliminary budget, which preceded the second raise. The budget funds 769 hours, down from 800 in 2018, and the fair board members said they would like to have 800 hours again this year, at a total of $12,000 for the year, up from $11,535 for 2018.
Commissioners Dan Cothren, Mike Backman and Gene Strong said they wanted time to consider the issues and review the data the fair board members had presented. They expressed concern about the use of extension cords for powering the RV campers, and they acknowledged the need for better heating in the office.
"We'll take care of the office," Cothren said.
There's no need for it [to be too cold to be a workspace]."
With little else on the agenda for the day, commissioners had time for reports and discussion.
--Commissioner Dan Cothren reported that the county has yet to receive approval from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its proposal to exempt a portion of the Ostervold Road erosion control because of the presence of an endangered species. By exempting the four-acre nesting area, commissioners hope to have the beach nourishment program approved for the three other zones.
--In reports of activities for the week, Commissioner Mike Backman said county Democrat and Republican parties are planning a joint program at the Skamokawa Grange to gather input from the public on rural needs and desires. He also commented that proposed legislation would put an end to Washington gillnet licenses on the Columbia River, which would have a significant impact on commercial fishermen in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. There is talk of buying out the licenses for $1,000 apiece, he said.
"That's the same as nothing," Backman said. "If they take away somebody's livelihood, they should pay for it."