MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County commissioners unanimously approved restoring roughly half of the cuts first enacted in January of this year.
Despite a public hearing on the issue, there was no testimony. County Commissioner Herb Welch said that the county decided to restore the funds because the county’s finances are doing better.
However, Welch said he was hesitant to restore too much. For one thing, he noted, that next year the county commissioners were going to try to do without an unpopular road levy shift, which raised $750,000 for the county by increasing property taxes more on city residents. Keeping some of the cuts intact now will help free up money later, he said. Welch said it’s also an unknown what the state Legislature could do.
The county restored $271,216 of the $571,089 cut from all of the offices that use the county’s general fund, including the Sheriff’s Office, the Auditor’s Office and many others. The extra funds along with a budget transfer from some miscellaneous funds to the general fund done last week helped bring the mandated cuts from 3.5 percent across the board to about 1.75 percent across the board.
Besides eliminating some cuts, the proposal also eliminates the salary contributions the previous Board of Commissioners had committed for newcomers Cormier and Gordon to do, as well as Welch.
The commission office’s budget assumed that each commissioner would donate $5,530 back to the county’s general fund. The proposal eliminates that requirement, which means, if approved on June 10, the Commission’s Office will be able to get off without doing any cuts or coming up with new revenue this year.
Welch points out that the commissioners are still paying for their own travel out of the county, as well as their own hotel and registration costs for training purposes.
Budget Director Brenda Sherman briefed the commissioners on the current status of the county’s budget Monday morning. Sherman said that the county’s $24.7 million operated budget expected to have an ending cash reserve of $5.57 million. That’s a good $1 million more than budgeted.
Sherman credited most of the increased revenues from unbudgeted timber sales. There was also an extra $280,880 increase in property tax revenue that wasn’t budgeted, Sherman said.
About the only unforeseen expenses on the horizon could be a $75,000 cost to replace the intercom system in the county jail and increased costs for the county commissioners to pay for attorneys dealing with the Superior Court lawsuit, Sherman said.