Clallam County approves $46 million budget with deficit

Adjusting for turnover cuts shortfall

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners Tuesday approved a $46 million budget for 2020 that — for the first time since 2007 — includes general fund investments in parks and facilities and information technology capital projects.

The budget predicts a deficit of $3 million, about $1.35 million of which can be attributed to capital projects and $1.2 million of which can be attributed to unpaid personnel costs due to turnover and retirements.

Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane told commissioners Tuesday that after adjusting for the turnover in personnel, the budget deficit is actually closer to $1.8 million. County code prevents “dark time” from being included in the budget, he said.

“All the commissioners take to heart we’re in a deficit position,” said Commissioner Randy Johnson. “The way one allocates individuals, the people cost in our budget is a misnomer relative to what the real costs will be.”

The 2020 budget projects that the county will start the year with $14.69 million in the general fund reserve, but projects a deficit of $3.072 million over the next year. Clallam County is the only county in the state that is not in debt.

Revenues are expected to total close to $42.9 million while expenditures will be about $46 million.

Commissioners also have budgeted an additional $327,000 to handle increased criminal justice costs related to an unusual uptick in homicide cases. Those costs could escalate next year, depending on whether the cases go to trial.

Three people are charged with killing Tiffany May, Jordan Iverson and Darrell Iverson at the end of 2018; one person is charged with killing Valerie Kambeitz and her three children, Lilly, Emma and Jayden; and another person is charged with the killing of Tristen Pisani. There still have been no arrests in the Jan. 2 death of Valerie Claplanhoo.

Commissioners held two public hearings Dec. 3 and another Monday before adopting a budget. Typically commissioners adopt the budget on the first Tuesday of December, but the decision was delayed to this week after last-minute changes.

Among those changes was the addition of a Conservation Futures fund, which commissioners approved in a 2-1 vote Nov. 26.

The ordinance sets a levy at $0.0275 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which Johnson said would raise about $250,000 each year. That would be an additional $6.88 per year for a home valued at $250,000.

The tax will be used to purchase development rights to farmland in Clallam County.

The budget includes $1.3 million for bluff stabilization at Salt Creek, HVAC replacement for the county’s building on Third Street, initial planning costs for relocation of the Emergency Operations Center and Information Technology capital projects.

“We need to make some capital investments in things like IT, things we haven’t made significant investments in since 2007,” Johnson said.

The commissioners approved another investment in IT infrastructure during their Dec. 2 meeting. That project, which will cost about $131,000, will be partly funded by unspent funds from 2019.

Lane said the investment in capital projects represents about half of the surplus the county gained over the last two years.

Lane, who has now worked through his first budgeting process at the county, thanked all departments for their work in putting together the budget.

“It’s a heavy lift,” he said. “Hopefully we can get that streamlined now that I’ve seen the process unfold. I really appreciate all the efforts all the departments put in preparing for this. It’s certainly a team effort.”

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

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