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Pierce County trims its budget by $8 million. More cuts are coming.

Post by David Wickert on March 31, 2009 at 7:02 pm with No Comments »
March 31, 2009 7:02 pm

The Pierce County Council put the finishing touches on a revised budget Tuesday that tries to plug an $8 million hole.

One problem: the hole has already grown to $10 million to $12 million.

Here’s what you need to know:

Revenue shortfall: The council action follows a January report that slumping sales tax and interest income had created an $8 million revenue shortfall in the $289 million general fund.

The solution:
To address the shortfall, County Executive Pat McCarthy proposed cutting $5.3 million in spending and using $2.7 million in fund balances and other adjustments.

On Tuesday, the council approved a plan that cuts deeper ($6.1 million) and relies less on fund balances and adjustments. The council also made some last-minute adjustments, like boosting spending on senior centers and trimming the assessor-treasurer’s office less than originally proposed.

The impact: County departments will respond to the cuts in various ways.

The planning department will implement a nine-day furlough for some workers, pending union approval. The parks department will reduce facilities maintenance and staff time devoted to some programming. The sheriff’s department may reduce patrols on several lakes and on Puget Sound. The human resources department will cut positions.

It was unclear how many layoffs would result countywide.

What they’re saying: "Many of these are difficult cuts," said County Executive Pat McCarthy. "Some hard-working county employees are losing their jobs or will get reduced pay as a result of program reductions of furloughs."

Council Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham, said the budget remains focused on public safety.

"We have been forced to focus on the core mission of county government, which is to ensure the safety of citizens," he said.

It’s getting worse: No one expects Tuesday’s revised budget to be the final word. Sales tax revenue continues to slump, and the estimated shortfall has grown to $10 million to $12 million.

Council members expect more cuts to the 2009 budget in June. And the outlook for 2010 is even worse.

Pierce County
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