Jefferson County Commissioners approve supplemental budget

Includes almost $1 million in salary and benefit increases

PORT TOWNSEND — The Board of Jefferson County Commissioners approved supplemental additions to the county budget, adding roughly $600,000 in additional expenses in the fourth quarter.

At a regular meeting Monday, commissioners unanimously approved an additional $545,555 in one-time expenses and $15,805 in ongoing expenses, bringing the county’s total 2022 expenditure from the general fund to more than $3.5 million.

The county’s expenditures are made up of $1.8 million in one-time expenses and $1.6 million in ongoing expenses, according to meeting documents. Much of the county’s expenses are in personnel, according to Jefferson County Finance Director Judy Shepherd.

“$964,000 is salaries and benefits,” Shepherd said at the meeting. “The general fund departments have done a really good job of keeping costs down.”

Commissioners said they had prioritized attracting and retaining experienced staff and felt the expenditures were a good use of funds.

“I agree that $1 million in salary increases is just the strategy that we’ve been talking about all year,” Commissioner Greg Brotherton said.

Commissioner Kate Dean said at the meeting that county staff have been underpaid for some time. She did not expect to see such large increases next year.

“The thing I’m most pleased with is that we’ve been able to bring salaries up,” Dean said. “That is a big jump for us but a critical one in order to maintain our workforce.”

Shepherd also noted increases in salaries and benefits are often due to collective bargaining agreements and not entirely within the county’s control.

The largest supplemental expenditures for the fourth quarter were a $204,000 control system upgrade for the county sheriff’s office and $150,000 in revised contracts and insurance premiums.

Total expenditures of other funds from the county were much higher, with $6,353,923 in one-time expenses and $645,669 ongoing, Shepherd said, but much of that was covered by federal relief dollars such as funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Shepherd said a budget meeting in January will take a closer look at the county’s expenses.

“Even though those numbers are large, we can explain them,” Shepherd said.

Monday’s meeting was the last regular commissioner meeting of 2022. The regular meeting set for Tuesday, Dec. 27, was canceled, although a meeting of the Housing Fund Board remains scheduled for Dec. 28.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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