Mason County Commissioners held a briefing with County Budget Director Frank Pinter to obtain guidance from the commission for the upcoming budget process. Pinter requested the commission set strategic goals for elected officials and department heads to consider when setting their 2015 budgets. Pinter suggested a "Status Quo Budget", where budgets and expenditures remain flat. The debate was flat to what year? 2013 or 2014?
Discussion was held regarding expected revenues and exactly what the "flat" number would be due to changes made throughout 2014. The revenues for 2014 contained added one-time revenues of $1.5 million that may not be available in 2015. Pinter offered other options for consideration: levy shift, .02% public safety tax, and/or a 1% property tax increase. Commissioner Sheldon let his intentions be known; he will not consider or approve a levy shift.
According to Pinter, budget issues/decisions facing the county commissioners are:
• Property Tax Revenues do not meet expenditure demands.
• Salaries consume 76% of the county's budget,
• Belfair operating shortfall (est. $845k)
• Risk pool cost increase (est, $200k)
• Unfunded Reet 1 capital improvements
• 2015 Deputy Arbitration Award
• County's match for Department Of Emergency Management
• Potential 3.4% wage adjustments for union and non rep
2015 appears to be a challenge equal to or better than previous year's budgets, more hard decisions to make.
JE KMAS News/July 8, 2014