Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
September, 2014
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This Month's Articles

Back-to-School Safety 101:

Hope for the Best…..Prepare for the Worst!

Telephone Alerts Available for Flooding Hazards

The War on Food Waste

Little Red School House Drive a Big Success!

A Herd of Folks at the Thurston County Fair

Making it in the Dry Years

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 County Prepares 2010 Budget.

Hearing set for later this year.

Thurston County Commissioners, staff and administrators are deep into the process of putting together a budget for the coming year. While it may again be painful, it appears that the situation has improved a bit after two rounds of significant cuts over the past year. Millions of dollars have been cut from the county’s general fund, and many employees were laid off to keep the budget balanced through 2009. Preliminary estimates indicate the need to cut again heading into 2010, but it will probably not be as deep a cut as the last two rounds.

The revised 2008 General Fund budget was about $80.5 Million dollars. About $6.6 million has since been cut from that level of spending. In order to accomplish that much of a reduction, all offices, departments and agencies of county government have been affected. Those cuts in the 2009 General Fund range from about 2% for the Office of Assigned Counsel to a whopping 36% for the Public Health and Social Services Department.

The major cost of providing any program or service of county government lies in the people who deliver that service. That means major budget cuts have to be done by cutting personnel. Dozens of county workers, totaling about 10% of the work force, have been laid off so far. The County Parks Department has been closed. Many offices have reduced hours and cut services. These steps, however drastic, were needed to balance the county budget, which is required by law. (The number of full time positions in general government offices – like the Assessor, Auditor, Treasurer and Commissioners – is now at roughly 1994 levels, despite a population growth of more than 30% over the past 15 years.)

Why are we in this shape? Thurston County is suffering from a severe decline in sales tax revenue as a result of the international economic recession. Meanwhile, property-tax initiatives have prevented county revenues from keeping up with inflation. The amount of property taxes levied by counties can only grow one percent per year, plus the revenues from new construction. At the same time, expenses (i.e., inflation) are rising four to five percent a year.

If there is some good news in all this, it is that it appears the economy may be recovering a bit. So the outlook may not be so grim for next year. However, there will likely still be funding cuts and layoffs for 2010. That’s why we are once again asking for your input on budget and spending. Below is the calendar for the budget preparation. You can contact us anytime by email at tcbocc@co.thurston.wa.us or by phone at 360-786-5440 and of course, attend the public hearing. Please let us know what your priorities are.

If you are interested in a recent report from a citizen budget work group you can visit the county web site at Citizen Budget Task Force Report

Remaining Dates for the 2010 Budget Creation Process-


September 1- Board of County Commissioners determines General Fund reduction targets (if necessary) for developing the 2010 budget and directs offices and departments to prepare their respective plans and identify service delivery impacts.

September 1- Personnel spreadsheets revised by the office/department to reflect budgeted 2010 FTE distribution are due.

September 1-30- Budgets are audited according to budget guidelines. Any discrepancies are resolved by the County Budget Team and affected offices or departments.

September 2-21- Departments and offices prepare budget reduction plans per board targets if necessary.

September 18- Deadline for submission of all budget materials on the checklist.

October 1- Last date to submit budget change forms for inclusion in the preliminary 2010 budget.

October 1-31- The Preliminary 2010 Budget is compiled and produced.

November 3- The Preliminary 2010 Budget is presented to the board. This is the commencement of the period for public review of the proposed 2010 Budget.

November 9-20- Board’s budget deliberations.

December 7- Public hearing on the county's 2010 budget, revenues, levies, assessments and expenditures.

December 9-11- Board review of public hearing comments.

December 22- Adoption of the county's 2010 Budget.

By John Tennis

Commissioners hear concerns at an April hearing. Commissioners hear concerns at an April hearing.