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Tag: Pat McCarthy


Pat McCarthy, Paul Pastor, others say Western State Hospital cuts will cause problems in Pierce County

The county executive and sheriff, along with County Councilman Dick Muri and Pierce County Community Connections director Helen Howell, are sending a letter today to Gov. Chris Gregoire opposing the downsizing of the Lakewood psychiatric hospital by 150 beds.

The county officials say the plan would “cause more problems that are even more expensive to solve,” particularly in Pierce County:

While 150 beds are slated to close, and only 10% of those are likely assigned to Pierce County, the reality over the years has been very different. A variety of factors continually lead to requests to be discharged to

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Pierce County budget meetings will intensify next week as department heads troop before the County Council with requests

Pat McCarthy

Roger Bush

Budget deliberations by the Pierce County Council will pick up speed next week as the panel hears from a number of department heads, including budget director Patrick Kenney, Parks and Recreation Director Kathy-Kravit Smith, Sheriff Paul Pastor, Public Works Director Brian Ziegler, county judges and others.

Council Chairman Roger Bush will preside over the meetings of the seven-member panel.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy last month proposed a $760 million budget package for 2011. It includes cuts in some areas, a few unfilled jobs and layoffs, and raises for workers. But it lacks the draconian cuts made in the last couple of years.

Still, the county’s departments are being asked to conserve and consolidate where they can, McCarthy  said.

Under the county charter, the executive proposes the budget but the council is responsible for refining it, if necessary, and then passing it into law.

The spotlight is on the county’s $268 million general fund because it pays for public safety items such as sheriff’s deputies, courts and criminal justice services, parks and recreation, and planning and land services.

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Pierce County budget cuts coming in July?

If you’re wondering when Pierce County might see another round of budget cuts, mark July 20 on your calendar.

The County Council on Tuesday set that date to hear three ordinances related to the 2010 budget. For now the ordinances contain no specific changes to the budget. But as the date approaches the council likely will propose amendments that spell out specific cuts or other adjustments.

Last month the council and County Executive Pat McCarthy trimmed $4.9 million from the county’s $269.3 million general fund. County officials already have signaled another cut may be coming later this year

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Pierce County to consolidate departments

Pierce County will consolidate its community services and human services departments as it tries to save money and streamline services.

County Executive Pat McCarthy announced the consolidation this morning.

“We can set up a system that delivers better outcomes, helping more citizens who need our assistance,” McCarthy said in a statement announcing the move. She notified employees in both departments late last week.

The county’s human services department includes services like chemical dependency, mental health and long-term care. Community services covers everything from arts and tourism to homeless assistance and low-income housing.

For several months Deputy Executive Kevin Phelps has led a group studying a possible consolidation of the departments. The group concluded that combining the departments will result in a more effective delivery of services.

Many questions remain to be answered. Among them: how much money, if any, will be saved. The team will spend the next few months creating a detailed implementation plan.

You can view its recommendations to the executive here.

The consolidation of human and community services might be the first phase of a major consolidation of county government. McCarthy ran for executive two years ago on a pledge to improve customer service and find efficiencies in county government.

In addition, the County Council has asked McCarthy to study combining the planning and public works departments. It also has asked the executive to study combining human resources, budget and finance, facilities, risk management and information technology into a new “general services division.”

Reports on those possible consolidations are expected this fall.

You can read today’s announcement of the human services/community services consolidation below.

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Pierce County Council set to restore Superior Court seat

Update: The council unanimously – and without comment – reinstated the Superior Court seat this afternoon.


The Pierce County Council this afternoon is scheduled to formally reinstate the Superior Court it eliminated last November.

The council voted unanimously to eliminate the seat formerly held by Judge Michael Hecht. The move came just a day after Hecht announced his resignation. He previously was convicted of felony harassment and paying a man for sex.

The council cited the need for budget flexibility as it tried to balance the 2010 budget. It claimed state law gave it the discretion to determine

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Pierce County Council, exec at odds – again

If you needed more evidence that relations between the Pierce County Council and County Executive Pat McCarthy remain strained, look no further than Monday’s council rules committee meeting.

Pat McCarthy

McCarthy accused the council of springing major budget cuts on the public at the last minute. Council Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham, accuse the Democratic executive of ignoring council requests for information. The executive walked out of the meeting during the chairman’s remarks.

It was like 2009 all over again.

As I reported in December, the executive and council were at odds for much of last year. Monday’s rules committee meeting indicates relations remain strained despite pledges of cooperation.

At the meeting, McCarthy complained that the council unveiled a proposed $5.3 million cut to the general fund budget on the Friday before Easter without consulting her. And she noted the version considered by the rules committee Monday was different than the version released Friday.

McCarthy has complained several times that the council works in secret, unveiling substantive budget and other proposals at the last minute. She’s said that gives the public and county officials little or no time to review the proposals before the council adopts them.

On Monday she used the word “subterfuge” to describe the council’s handling of the budget cuts. She urged the council to wait a week to give the public a chance to review the cuts.

“I don’t see what the rush is to move forward,” McCarthy said.

Nonetheless, the council appears ready to move forward with the budget cuts today. Bush indicated there will be more last-minute amendments unveiled at the council’s 3 p.m. meeting.

Bush took exception to McCarthy’s remarks. “I don’t think this council has ever used subterfuge,” the chairman said.

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Pierce council may trim budget $5.4 million

The Pierce County Council may trim spending by $5.4 million as the county wrestles with declining revenue.

The council also may freeze county hiring, ban most out-of-state travel and eliminate non-mandatory training to help balance the budget.

The proposal likely would mean layoffs in the planning department and cuts to such programs as 4-H and the Pierce County Fair. But spending on law enforcement and corrections would be spared under a plan approved by the council’s rules committee Monday. The full council will consider the measure Tuesday.

“It’s simply hard choices on top of hard choices,” council Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham, said

Roger Bush

at Monday’s committee meeting.

It’s been a year of hard choices for Pierce County.

The council twice reduced spending in 2009. In November it approved a $793 million 2010 budget that was 7 percent lower than the 2009 budget approved a year earlier.

The council cut more than 300 jobs, raised fees and eliminated services at 16 parks to balance this year’s spending plan. But it apparently wasn’t enough.

The latest revenue figures show sales tax receipts and planning department fees and charges.

Exactly how much they’re down is a subject of debate between the County Council and County Executive Pat McCarthy.

McCarthy has proposed a plan to cover a projected $4.1 million revenue shortfall in the county’s $269.3 million general fund.

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Pierce County faces $6 million budget hole

Pierce County faces a $6 million budget hole as the worst recession in decades continues to take a toll on county revenue.

County Executive Pat McCarthy has directed most general fund departments to cut spending 1 percent to partially fill the budget gap. The county also might rely on fund balances and other savings to balance the budget.

But bigger spending cuts may be needed.

“The sooner you do it, the less dramatic it has to be,” budget director Pat Kenney told the County Council at a study session this afternoon.

It’s the latest bad budget news for a county that has seen plenty in the last year.

In 2009 the county endured several rounds of budget cuts. Most recently, the council in November approved a $793 million 2010 budget that cut more than 300 jobs, raised fees and eliminated services at 16 parks.

This year’s budget is already 7 percent smaller than the original 2009 spending plan. Now it likely will be reduced further.

In a memo to department heads and elected officials last week, Kenney directed most general fund departments to cut 1 percent from their budgets. The general fund covers basic county services like law enforcement, courts, and elections.

The sheriff’s department – a top priority for elected officials – has not been asked to cut its budget. But McCarthy told the council that may change as the county’s financial situation becomes clearer.

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