County considers doing away with budget cuts

MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County commissioners are preparing to restore a good chunk of the cuts first enacted in January of this year.

During a special meeting on Thursday, the commissioners set a public hearing for 2 p.m., June 10 to consider restoring $271,216 of the $571,089 cut from all of the offices that use the county’s general fund. A public hearing is mandated by state law before budget adjustments can be done.

The previous Board of Commissioners had implemented 3.5 percent across-the-board “contra entries.” That means that automatic cuts were not mandated, however, the commissioners told department heads to use the whole year to figure out how they wanted to cut their budgets.

County Commissioner Wes Cormier said he doesn’t believe in across-the-board cuts and that some offices were treated unfairly during the budgeting process. Cormier says the county will need to do a better job of setting priorities this upcoming budget cycle.

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 not be making any cuts or coming up with new revenue this year.

Originally, Commissioners Welch and Frank Gordon said they wanted to wait on restoring the cuts because of the uncertainty involving the state Legislature. But, with the special session dragging on and no resolution in immediate sight, Gordon said it makes sense to give department heads and elected officials some certainty.

Welch said some offices will still need to come up with ways to cut their budgets, but now they have some certainty in how much they need to cut by the end of the year. Welch notes that the county did eliminate the $9,448 in cuts to the Coroner’s Office, as well as the $256 cut to the Board of Equalization, the $209 cut to the Disability Board and the $255 cut to the Boundary Review Board since those amounts were so low.

Clerk Cheryl Brown, who attended the meeting, said she was disappointed the commissioners didn’t just do away with the cuts altogether. Her office was originally asked to find $22,821. Under the proposed revisions, she’ll end up getting $11,410 back to her budget. That leaves her a balance of $11,411 to find.

“I don’t know what more I can cut,” Brown said. “I’ll just end up coming back at the end of the year and asking for more money anyway. … So, I’ll give you half a thank you.”

“And you’ll get half a ‘you’re welcome,’ ” Welch replied back to her.