County officials lobby lawmakers to protect county funding

MONTESANO — A letter being sent from nearly every elected official in Grays Harbor County government urges local legislators not to support any sort of budget proposal that takes away more money from counties in order to balance the state’s budget.

“We write you today to stress the importance of state shared revenues to the financial well being of our county,” the county officials write.

The county is hoping to maintain current levels of shared revenues with the state on such items as municipal criminal justice assistance, flexible funding for public health, streamlined sales tax mitigation, distressed city-county assistance funding, liquor profit and tax revenue, rural economic development funding and others.

“These revenues are incredibly important to counties, because the only other legislatively provided revenue sources are property taxes and sales tax,” the letter states. “Counties do not enjoy additional diversified revenue sources afforded to cities, such as B&O tax, business license and utility tax. … Even before the recent severe fiscal crisis, counties have been faced with shrinking revenues and increasing expenses,” the letter reads in part.

The letter is signed by County Commissioners Herb Welch, Wes Cormier, Frank Gordon, Assessor Rick Hole, Auditor Vern Spatz, Clerk Cheryl Brown, Coroner Dan Burns, Prosecutor Stew Menefee, Sheriff Rick Scott and Treasurer Ron Strabbing. The only elected officials missing are the judges.

“We are fully aware of the budget constraints and demands the state faces, but urge you to remember that cutting state shared revenue is no different than cutting vital state services that are delivered at a local level,” the letter states. “If this revenue is cut, it will exacerbate our existing budget struggles and prevent us from delivering the services you have directed us to provide.”