Washington state cuts funding for the developmentally disabled in Clallam County

PORT ANGELES — Services for the developmentally disabled in Clallam County were cut — but not chopped — by the state budget ax Tuesday.

Clallam County commissioners approved a contract amendment with the state Department of Social and Health Services that lowers state and federal funding by $112,709. The new total for the two-year contract is $1.57 million.

Tuesday’s cut was the result of an executive order from the governor.

“This is a sign of the times,” said Commissioner Mike Doherty, who served on Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Committee on Transforming Washington’s Budget last year.

“There’s probably more cuts coming, but local government is trying to maintain the services that we provide as an agent of the state.”

Commissioner Steve Tharinger, who is serving simultaneously as a state representative, had a scheduling conflict and did not participate in the county meeting.

Gregoire assembled the budget advisory committee to provide input on state spending, question budget assumptions, serve as a sounding board and lend guidance to the governor.

The state budget deficit is $4.5 billion and growing.

Prevention Works!

On a brighter note, commissioners endorsed a new Prevention Works! five-year plan for kids and teens.

The plan aims to end child abuse and neglect, substance abuse and violence.

Prevention Works! is a nonprofit coalition of more than 300 Clallam County citizens with representatives from law enforcement, social and public health agencies, and school districts.

“Thank you for your tireless efforts,” Commissioner Mike Chapman told the volunteers in attendance.

“Most volunteers don’t get thanked enough publicly.

“I very much appreciate all the hard work that these guys are putting in to making our community a better place.”

In other news, commissioners requested bids for a 26-foot inflatable law enforcement boat for the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

The boat will be funded through a Port Security grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Bids are due by April 12 at 10 a.m.

Local bidders involved

Chapman asked Sheriff Bill Benedict if local companies will be in the running for the lowest qualified bid.

“There’s three,” Benedict said.

“I think we’ve got a bid from at least two of them. I’m very encouraged by that.”

Meanwhile, a closed record appeal hearing was held on a Clallam County hearing examiner’s decision to deny a land division request from Diane and Ken Gaydeski.

The commissioners’ decision was postponed to get a recommendation from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The petitioners were almost finished with an application to subdivide their land when the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board ruled April 23, 2008, that the county’s rural zoning was invalid and noncompliant with the Growth Management Act.

Without warning, landowners who had been allowed to put one dwelling on 2.4 acres of property were told they would be restricted to one home per 4.8 acres.

The GMA hearings board sided with Futurewise, a Seattle public interest group that challenged Clallam and nearly 20 other counties on their growth policies.

A county appeal on portions of the 2008 ruling is pending in court.

Commissioners sought legal advice on whether they have the authority to provide equitable relief to the Gaydeskis. They said a decision will likely come within the next two weeks.

Tharinger via voice

The delay also gives Tharinger an opportunity to review the testimony from the hearing.

Tharinger has taken part in every county work session by voice conference and has missed just one business meeting at the county since the legislative session began in early January.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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