The Grays Harbor County Commissioners are working with every department of the county to cut costs and trim a bloated budget. A letter sent to all department heads last week from Commissioner Vickie Raines warned of plans to remove all over-baseline budget requests saying that “at this time, there truly is no other option.”
Budget Director Brenda Sherman said she’s been working with the State Auditor’s Office on the budget. They would like to see revenues and expenditures breaking even, “We’re not that way this year, and it’s more severe next year.”
Sherman said budget requests and additions have ballooned the current and coming year budgets, “[I] plugged in our 2017 budget, which right now has a $1.9-million operating deficit so our expenditures are higher than our revenue for the current year. And then the 2018 [budget], that difference, the expenditures are $3.7-million higher than the revenue.”
The county commissioners yesterday held a special meeting with department heads to go over those issues. A silent room of administrators and elected officials was asked several times if they had any ideas to help cut costs or increase revenues.
Grant-funded programs and those funded from other budgets were not affected by the motion that passed yesterday asking Sherman to strip the general fund budget back to the baseline.
Commissioner Wes Cormier said before the vote, “This is something that we’ve traditionally done every year, reduce that down to the baseline, and that’s still negotiable. You know we’ll talk with elected officials and department heads and move forward so there’s still some give and take on that anyway.”
Commissioner Vickie Raines noted that funding for a couple of positions in the Sheriff’s Office would not be affected, with the addition of the new sales tax to support criminal justice and public safety.
Raines said in an email to staff that the back-to-baseline move will only lower the county’s deficit from 3.7-million to just under 2-million and that more cuts need to be made.
The commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to direct Sherman to trim the budget back to the originally-approved budget. Sherman said she will detail what those cuts mean to each department this week.