Clallam commissioners mull code enforcement as part of budget talk

PORT ANGELES — In a work session Monday, the Clallam County commissioners touched on whether they should address code enforcement during this year’s budgeting process.

It was part of a larger discussion about the 2018 preliminary roll-up budget, which will be presented to the commissioners during a 10 a.m. meeting today.

Part of the ongoing discussion might concern how the county will address code enforcement, though commissioners didn’t decide Monday if that will be handled during the budgeting process.

The county Department of Community Development has one lone code enforcement officer, who takes in more cases than she can solve.

In June, Code Enforcement Officer Barb McFall estimated she was handling more than 200 cases and said she spends as much time taking complaints as she does in the field solving cases.

It was one topic that Commissioner Mark Ozias called out during the budget discussion Monday, saying it’s commonly recognized that the county could do better with code enforcement.

He said the issue can be addressed either during the budgeting process or after the budget is finished.

“I think that in some regards we’ll likely address this potentially as part of our budget process,” Ozias said. “We keep saying we need to do something different.”

Commissioner Randy Johnson said the commissioners need a separate work session on the topic, which he said he hears about at least once a week.

“I don’t want to be here a year from now and say we haven’t solved the problem,” he said.

Commissioner Bill Peach said he’d like to see more staff and new policy that would help staff with code enforcement.

He said he’d also like to see a system that monitors how changes in policy and staffing affect enforcement.

“I don’t believe that additional staffing is the sole solution on this thing,” Peach said.

He said he wouldn’t oppose passing the budget before addressing code enforcement, “knowing our clear intent is for a change.”

Code enforcement came up during discussion about the roll-up budget, which projects general fund revenues staying relatively flat compared to the 2017 budget, at nearly $37 million.

The preliminary budget doesn’t yet include additional proceeds that would be coming to the county, such as a proposed 0.1 percent Juvenile Detention Facilities sales tax.

As of now, the preliminary budget shows the county using $1.83 million of its reserves to balance the general fund, but the budget is far from finished, officials said during the Monday session.

“I would say this is as close to break-even of a roll up we’ve had in my 11 years here,” said Jim Jones, county administrator.

County commissioners will meet with department heads this month to hammer out many of the details before the budget is approved by Dec. 12.

The county will hold a final public hearing Dec. 5.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.