PORT ANGELES — Clallam County staff have finished meeting with department heads as they look for additions to next year’s proposed $47.5 million general fund budget.
The preliminary budget, presented to commissioners earlier this month, shows the county dipping about $800,000 into its reserves, starting 2019 with $11 million and ending the year with $10.2 million.
Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones said by the time he presents a recommended budget to the Board of County Commissioners Oct. 15, it will include most of what department heads have asked for. He estimated it dipping about $2 million into the reserves.
“We have the reserves to do that,” said Jones, whose last day as administrator is Oct. 15. “People are making real good compelling arguments as to why some of those … asks ought to be included.”
He said his recommendations will be posted to the county’s website Thursday.
Commissioners will meet with department heads during a series of public meetings Oct. 18 through Oct. 26. A public hearing is planned for Dec. 4 and the budget will be adopted no later than Dec. 11.
The preliminary budget projects $46.8 million in revenues for the county’s general fund next year and $47.6 million in expenditures.
This would mark a substantial increase in both revenues and expenses over last year.
The bulk of that increase is more than $6 million in anticipated grants for the Lower Dungeness Floodplain Enhancement project.
Last year commissioners budgeted $39.3 million in revenues and $39.9 million in expenditures.
During the presentation of the budget Sept. 11, Jones told commissioners that despite the projected $800,000 deficit, the budget is in good shape.
Department heads this year have asked for $2.2 million — most of which are one-time costs — in additional funding from the general fund, much of which would cover equipment replacements and office supplies.
Among the more costly requests that aren’t related to equipment replacements or office supplies is a proposal to hire two Department of Community Development consultants for $80,000 each.
One would work to determine the best use of industrial properties for an advanced industrial park on the west side of the Port Angeles Urban Growth Area.
Another would look at how to revitalize the commercial strip in the eastern part of the Port Angeles Urban Growth Area on U.S. Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Morse Creek.
Mary Ellen Winborn, director of the Department of Community Development, said both efforts would involve getting stakeholder groups together.
“The department is all organized and we’re ready to take on something new,” she said. “They like when you bring one-time money, so that’s what I did.”
She said she believed the efforts would be included in the recommended budget.
Another request is from the Information Technology Department, which is looking to establish a geographic information system (GIS) division. That would be an ongoing cost of $113,000.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is asking for $50,000 to cover expenses for the trial of Tommy Ross, who is accused of killing a Port Angeles woman in 1978.
Clallam County Prosecutor Mark Nichols said the Clallam County commissioners already approved $80,000 to cover those costs, $30,000 of which has been spent.
Nichols said that the county is required to rebudget the $50,000 that has not yet been spent if it is to be used next year.
The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is asking the county to transfer $110,000 out of the general fund to keep the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET) functioning as a drug task force. Grant money that had been used to fund the task force isn’t available.
Sheriff Bill Benedict told the commissioners in April he may need to ask the county to help fund two of OPNET’s administrative positions because the Department of Justice was withholding Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant funding for agencies across the country over the “sanctuary city” issue.
Now, he said, it’s the state that is withholding those funds.
“It’s held up by the governor and his feeling that if you accept the money you can’t have sanctuary counties,” Benedict said.
“It sounds like doom and gloom, but it’s really not,” he said. “It can get funded one way or another.”
Benedict said he believes the state will provide different funding later this year, but he asked for the money to be included in the county’s budget just in case that doesn’t happen.
Jones said last Monday he will be “zeroing out” OPNET’s budget. He said he cannot recommend the county supporting OPNET without the grant funding.
“I cannot recommend it without the new funding coming in,” he said.
Benedict said there needs to be a discussion with the cities involved in the drug task force to see what they can contribute.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.