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McCarthy shuns veto, approves County Council’s budget

Post by David Wickert on Dec. 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm with 6 Comments »
December 1, 2009 2:06 pm

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has elected not to veto the County Council’s proposed 2010 budget despite concerns that it cuts too deeply.

McCarthy notified the council this morning that she had signed several ordinances related to next year’s budget.

Pat McCarthy
Pat McCarthy

Despite signing the ordinances, McCarthy renewed her objection to the council’s steep cuts to the planning department, which will lose about two dozen positions next year.

“I am concerned that the additional cuts made by the County Council could cause unreasonable backlogs for our citizens,” McCarthy wrote to the council. “I believe it is imperative that we have staffing levels that will help with timely, predictable processing of building permits.”

McCarthy has proposed a deal that would allow the planning department to rehire some employees if the local real estate market picks up and the department needs more people to process building permits. One issue that must be decided is what level of increased activity would “trigger” rehiring staff.

“I am hopeful that we can reach agreement on trigger language that would allow us to allocate additional resources to (the planning department) during 2010,” McCarthy wrote. “This would be conditioned on (department) revenues exceeding 2010 projections.”

You can download a PDF copy of McCarthy’s letter here.

Last month the council unanimously approved a $269.3 million general fund budget that is 7 percent smaller than the 2009 budget approved a year ago. The 2010 budget would cut more than 300 jobs, eliminate services at 16 parks and otherwise cut spending.

The budget also raises a variety of fees. For example, the basic monthly sewer charge for a single-family residence will rise 15 percent to $29.65.

The council budget largely mirrors the preliminary spending plan McCarthy recommended in September. But the executive expressed concerns, especially about the deep planning department cuts. She had held out the possibility of vetoing the budget. Today was the last day she could have taken that action.

McCarthy’s decision caps a year of cost-cutting brought on by recession-related declines in sales tax and other revenue. But more cuts may be on the way.

The council has asked McCarthy to report back in January on how she would cut the budget an additional 1 percent and 3 percent, if revenue continues to decline.

“While I am hopeful that 2010 will see our local economy begin to rebound, we must remain cautious in our revenue forecast and prudent in our expenditures,” McCarthy wrote to the council.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. So that veto of the superior court de-authorization didn’t amount to much. How hard was this to see coming?

  2. ldozy1234 says:

    my concern is the cut in the Sheriffs dept.
    Losing more deputies is the last thing we need right now.

  3. ldozy1234 says:
    December 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    So you’re worried about losing deputies. Why? When the choice is to do their jobs or accept federal funds to do things that make it appear that they are doing their jobs, which do you think they choose?

    Every time police agencies accept federal funds for one of those theme operations (click it or ticket, etc.), where do you think the officers come from? The sheriff doesn’t just go out and rent those officers – he pulls them off their regular work assignments and gives them a make-work assignment.

    It’s not much different than WorkFirst welfare. The truth is that the deputies you are worried about losing are already lost and have been for awhile.

    If you want to help prevent crime waves, tell the county council to pass an ordinance banning the acceptance of federal funds for anything other than federal issues (homeland security, immigration, etc).

  4. ldozy1234 says:

    Thanks for that insight Pgroup….very interesting. So your saying that deputies that should be patrolling in the community are relieved of that duty to meet Federal funds for various programs? I wish there was some more information on this topic. I would be very angry to hear that that was true…………..

  5. ldozy1234 says:

    TNT.. did the new budget also reduce McCarthys office? And is it true that a 2 million dollar loan was approved for Chambers? Doesn’t matter which budget or fund they miraculously “found” money to make this “loan” … if they can find money for something like this, then IMO the County still has too much hidden money being mis-utilized for special pork projects.

  6. David Wickert says:

    Ldozy, the Chambers Bay loan is $2.5 million from the Equipment Rental & Revolving Fund. I’m planning to do a story, but have been delayed because of some other stuff (vetoes, overriding vetoes, etc.). I’m on vacation the rest of this week and part of next week, but will get to it soon.

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