Commissioners pass county budget

Sequim Gazette

Clallam County commissioners unanimously passed the 2011 budget Dec. 14, siphoning $1.4 million out of the county’s reserve fund.

Originally faced with a $3.1 million budget shortfall, commissioners instructed department heads to trim 3 percent across-the-board and approved a $1.4 million withdrawal from the county’s reserves.

The final $83 million budget eliminated 30 positions, mostly through attrition but including four layoffs, cut the hours of certain services and froze the salaries of County Administrator Jim Jones and the county commissioners.

County Commissioner Mike Doherty said the budget process was difficult.

The county had to cope with changes in banking law led to a loss of $2 million of revenue a year in interest and an increase in employer contribution requirements for county employees’ pensions, which resulted in a loss of $700,000 a year.

“Basically our budget tries to preserve the core services and functions of county government,” Doherty said. “But we did have to borrow from the reserves.”

Public safety is the top priority of the budget, with 67 percent of funds allocated to that area.

More than $55 million goes to public safety, which includes the Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office, courts, jails and emergency services.

During the Dec. 7 budget hearings Jones pointed out the budget puts $57 million a year into the local economy through salaries and contracts with local companies.

Of the county’s budget, $27 million comes from taxes.

The county also receives $27 million from other governments, $5 million from charges for goods and services, $648,000 from licenses and permit fees, $940,000 from fines and forfeits and $10 million from other sources.

Reach Amanda Winters at



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