Jefferson commissioners approve $56 million budget for 2018

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners adopted the county’s $56 million 2018 budget Monday.

The budget was adopted after minor last-minute changes were made following their meeting last week. The budget now projects a combined $49,065,863 in revenue and $55,978,490 in expenditures across all funds, projecting a nearly $7 million shortfall for the county.

Last week officials called the budget “status quo” and said the county — like many others in the state — is continuing to have difficulty funding county functions.

Among the changes in the general fund is a change of staffing hours in the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, said County Administrator Philip Morley. That involves a child support enforcement officer reducing from 32 hours each week to 24.

The remaining days would be covered at the paralegal level, he said.

That change means a projected $23,000 loss in revenue for the general fund and a projected $25,500 cut in expenditures.

The county is also cutting about $15,500 in costs through operating transfers, he said.

The Other Funds now includes the County Fair budget, which is expected to break even at $250,000 in revenue and costs.

Commissioner Kathleen Kler lauded staff efforts in putting together the budget, a process that takes several months.

“The amount of staff work and collaboration that goes into this budget is remarkable,” she said during Monday’s meeting, noting that each year it seems to be easier to understand.

The General Fund revenues include $720,000 that is diverted from road taxes.

It includes $412,000 in one-time costs, including $73,800 to equip an additional deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Morley said last week there is a structural problem in funding county government because inflation rises faster than taxes.

When the recession hit in 2008, the county tightened its belt financially while working to meet the needs of residents, he said.

Officials said the county employs 8.6 percent fewer people today than it did in 2008. The county’s population has increased about 9 percent during the same time, they said.

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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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