PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County’s budget was unanimously amended Monday during a hearing of the Board of County Commissioners, with most of the increases going toward salaries.
“This is almost a new budget because of the substance,” said Central Service Director Mark McCauley, who is also a certified public accountant.
The 2018 Second Quarter General Fund budget increase totaled $525,226, with $391,067, or 74.5 percent, related to the recent ratification of the collective bargaining agreement with the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) that raised wages retroactively to Jan. 1, 2018.
Non-General Fund expenditure budget increase requests totaled $773,748, which are partially offset by $608,305 in additional revenues. Of this amount, 20.4 percent or $158,149, covers salary and benefit increases related to the UFCW contract.
Additionally, 49 percent, or $376,252, relates to the lighting upgrade for Memorial Field. Another 7.9 percent, or $75,000, goes to increased funding for the homeless shelter. These requests equal 79 percent of Non-General Fund requests.
Under the adopted budget revision, each county commissioner will receive an increase of $1,559, making their salary $79,518. There was also an addition of $1,425 to total personnel benefits.
“We are not giving ourselves a raise. It is a formula set by the RCW and I just wanted that clarified,” said Commissioner Kathleen Kler.
WSU extension and the Quilcene School District run a successful 4-H After School Program that will continue September through December with $8,000 going toward a three-day a week program in Brinnon and a four-day a week program in Quilcene. The program is partially funded by a commitment from Jefferson Healthcare for $10,000.
Because the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1570 which increased document recording surcharge fees effective July 1, $75,000 was added to the current budget of $178,588 to keep the homeless shelter open all year.
County Administrator Philip Morley said the prosecutor’s office needed to pay invoices from last year because of a shortfall.
“The prosecutor fully expended the budget and couldn’t pay for the 2017 invoices so they rolled the invoices over into 2018. So that was essentially exceeding the budget.”
The Prosecutor’s Office requested $44,863 to cover the deficit.
The Coroner’s Office also requested $11,700 to cover the cost of 2017 invoices paid for in 2018. As of June 7, the Coroner budget has 38 percent left for the balance of the year.
Drug Court case management received $44,412 and Family Therapeutic Court Case management received $12,000.
During Public Hearing comments, Tom Thiersch of Jefferson County, a frequent public commentator at county commissioner meetings, complemented the board and staff.
“I attend the meetings of a lot of other agencies around the county,” said Thiersch.
“None of them have the same degree of transparency when it comes to how the money is spent as is evidenced by the budget appropriations and extensions that have happened here.
“The county’s budget is pretty opaque, but that’s not your fault.
“To the extent that you can, you make it clear as to where the changes are made.
“I appreciate the fact that we are being informed with the changes taking place.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].