County officials nearing budgetary finale
December 1, 2022
Wahkiakum County officials are nearing the end of the development of their 2023 budgets.
On Tuesday, the board of commissioners met as the supervisors of the county's four flood control zone districts and set assessments and budget amounts for 2023.
Next Monday, 9:30 a.m., commissioners will reconvene their recessed Nov. 22 meeting to hold public hearings on potential property tax increases and the final budget.
In the preliminary budget, the county's Current Expense Fund, which includes most courthouse departments, totals $7.8 million. Commissioners budgeted $7.29 million for 2022; actual expenses total close to $6.7 million.
The non-departmental budgets are listed at $28.98 million, up from $22.72 budgeted for 2022. These budgets include the county road department, Health & Human Services programs, the Grays River Valley Center at Johnson Park, the flood control zone districts, and so on.
The county expects to collect $530,000 in property tax revenue for the road department and $670,000 for the Current Expense Fund.
Overall, the county's revenues appear satisfactory. In the past, officials have shifted some of the Road Fund Levy to the Current Expense Fund, but that's not necessary this year.
"For the 2023 budget revenues are adequate, and we are not looking at a shortfall," Treasurer Tammy Peterson commented in a Tuesday email.
On Tuesday, commissioners approved assessments for the flood control zone districts.
The assessments were set at $45 per acre and 80 cents per $1,000 assessed value of improvements on property. The assessments are expected to produce $28,600, which will be transferred into the Flood Control Fund.
During the public hearing on the districts' assessments, Puget Island residents raised concerns about dike erosion threats and asked how the commission would address those threats in 2023.
North Welcome Slough Road resident Tony Aegerter, who is a member of the Consolidated Diking District No. 1 of Puget Island board of commissioners, identified several places along that road where erosion is threatening the dike.
A US Army Corps of Engineers pile dike is part of the problem, he commented; it causes an eddy that erodes the river bank. In the past, ship wakes have been a problem, but that has moderated with improved designs for ship hulls.
"I've still seen wakes come over the road," commented Jason Will.
Aegerter also commented that erosion is cutting away the beach along Ostervold Road, and beach nourishment will be needed there in a few years.
Commissioner Dan Cothren said he would raise the issues with Corps officials early next year.
"We've had meetings with them on it," he said. "We'll bring it up. If you're creating a problem, you need to fix it."
Cothren also commented that the county has had trouble getting all property owners along the North Welcome Slough shoreline to sign on to proposed beach nourishment projects, a requirement of the Corps.
"This has been going on for years," said retiring county Assessor Bill Coons, also an Island resident. "You mentioned that there are some land owners who won't sign on, but they have to pay assessments and they get nothing for what they pay."