County Commission Approves Budget Cuts

On a 2 to 1 vote Tuesday, the Mason County Commission cut more than $1.8 Million from the County’s 2017 Current Expense Budget. This action followed about two hours of testimony from 26 people out of an crowd that filled the Commission chambers, the lobby of the County’s Building One and a separate conference room set up with the video feed from MasonWebTV Powered by HCC.

Earlier this month, the Commissioners asked department heads and elected officials to cut over $2 Million. However, after each department looked at their budgets, many officials came back with lesser cuts which totaled over $1.67 Million. At the beginning of the hearing, Frank Pinter, Director of Support Services, explained reasons why the cuts are necessary.

The Commission’s approved cut takes most of those submitted amounts except the one from the Sheriff’s Office. The Commission requested the Sheriff cut nearly $900,000. On Monday, the Sheriff submitted a cut of $660,807. By Tuesday’s hearing, that cut increased to $717,172. However, Commissioner Terri Drexler’s motion upped that cut to the original $898,384 amount requested with a promise to add funds back to the Sheriff’s budget later this year if additional revenue is found.

Cuts to other departments approved Tuesday:

WSU Extension $20,941 (same as requested).
Assessor $97,849 (same as requested).
Auditor $101,491 (same as requested).
Treasurer $60,954 (same as requested).
The Clerk’s Office discovered they will be adding nearly $23,000 in revenue so that department’s cut went from $66,760 to $43,876.
Support Services, which includes Department of Emergency Management, Human Resources, Risk Management, Parks, Facilities, Commission, Central Services and IT, increased their proposed reduction by over $41,000 from the $318,552 to $360,176.
District Court $11,355 down from the proposed cut of $58,461.
Juvenile $69,516 down from the proposed cut of $121,489.
Prosecutor $89,239 down from the proposed cut of $116,192.
Coroner $14,069 down from the proposed cut of $22,683.
Superior Court $54,000 down from the proposed cut of $66,800.
Indigent Defense was unable to make any cuts.

Commissioner Kevin Shutty voted against the motion saying he wanted to approve the reductions as submitted by elected officials.

Now County officials will be working on a budget for 2018 which will require additional reductions as revenues continue to dwindle. The County Commission will likely be asking voters to approve some type of property tax increase in November. They are scheduled to continue discussing a property tax levy lid lift or Crimial Justice Levy during their Monday briefings.