After months of negotiation and discussion, members of the Pierce County Council voted unanimously Monday, Nov. 17 to adopt the county’s 2015 budget. The new budget takes effect Jan. 1 and, among other things, will devote more resources to public safety and corrections.
“Crafting a budget is always challenging, and balancing the needs of each county department with the resources we have available can sometimes be difficult,” said Council Chair Dan Roach, who represents the 1st Council District. “I’m very pleased to see that, once again, the council – despite some differences of opinion – came together in support of the right priorities for county government.”
Specifically, the new county budget allocates an additional $200,000 to the Sheriff’s Department to hire two more full-time deputies. During negotiations, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said he wanted to devote more resources to patrol and property crime prevention. Additionally, the council retained two deputy prosecutor positions that were set to expire due to the loss of grant funding. Those individuals are expected to focus their efforts on identity theft and human trafficking cases.
The budget funds the hiring of eight additional corrections deputies at the Pierce County Jail. Council members earmarked $100,000 to implement performance audit recommendations aimed at reducing the Corrections Bureau’s high cost of overtime. The Council also added language to the budget that asks the County Executive to attempt to incorporate the performance audit recommendations for the Corrections Bureau into future labor agreements to the extent possible. The budget also creates an ad hoc committee to evaluate jail operations on an ongoing basis.
The Council also added language to the budget that directs county departments to begin shutting down illegal marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens as of July 1, 2015, unless the Legislature acts to change state marijuana laws before then.
Other highlights in the budget include:
Total county spending – including specific funds for roads, the airport and ferry system, stormwater and sewer systems, and more – drops by 5.72 percent, to $928.7 million, mostly due to lower spending on the multi-year expansion of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The Council voted Nov.12, to approve some of the supporting ordinances that implement the budget, but it did not take a final vote on the main budget proposal at that time. Instead, the county’s legislative body delayed its final vote until its Nov. 17 meeting to ensure the public had time to review and provide comment. The preliminary budget submitted by the County Executive is available online here; the final budget documents will be posted online soon.
The final budget meeting can be reviewed on Pierce County TV’s website, www.piercecountytv.org, or on PCTV’s mobile app.
The budget now goes to County Executive Pat McCarthy, who has 10 days from receipt to approve or veto it.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dan Roach, Pierce County Council Chair 253-798-3635 firstname.lastname@example.org