Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
September, 2010
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2011 Thurston County Budget Process Underway.

Sharing Garden Bounty.

Recycling In the Park.

Yelm Highway Project off to Good Start.

Take Winter By Storm!

New Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps Being Developed.

Protect Your Housing Investment and the Environment!

Work Underway on County’s First Off Leash Dog Area.

Lincoln Leading!! -- How Olympians Got the News in 1860.

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 2011 Thurston County Budget Process Underway.

Outlook may be a bit better, but not long term.

Creating Thurston County’s 2011 budget is like finding a spot to stand and hold your head above water for a bit while recessionary floods swirl all around you. In other words, after years of budget reductions, it appears that monstrous cuts will not be needed for next year. But that doesn’t mean that the flood waters aren’t going to rise in future years.

One of the main reasons we are not anticipating cuts for 2011 is because of very painful reductions made over the past several years, especially 2009 and this year. In those two years alone we cut more than 150 employee positions and more than $7 million dollars from the General Fund. That level of reduction is unprecedented for Thurston County.

It also means we have asked county employees to do a lot of work with fewer resources, including many co-workers who are no longer at the county. We thank county employees for taking on extra duties and continuing to provide excellent services to county residents. We also thank county elected officials and department directors for their cooperation in finding the savings needed to balance the difficult budgets over the past several years. And, we remain under a hiring freeze.

Though we have a bit of a reprieve for next year’s budget, we are still searching to find cost savings and operational efficiencies wherever and whenever we can. Just because the financial picture is a bit brighter than it has been in the past, does not mean we can provide wholesale increases for any county office or department for 2011. Likewise, we cannot afford major new programs or services.

For a number of reasons, we may be right back to major budget cuts for 2012 and beyond. Major budgetary issues facing the county include-

  • Sales tax revenue remains significantly lower than pre-recession years.
  • Whether or not the economy recovers, the county faces a basic financial dilemma: Though operational costs increase by three to five percent a year (inflation), property tax revenue is limited to growth of just one percent per year. (The county receives only 11 cents out of every dollar collected in property taxes. Most of the funding goes to support public education.)
  • The county also suffers from a lack of diversity in funding sources. While cities have several sources of income including Property Taxes, Sales Taxes, Utility Taxes, Lodging Taxes and Business and Occupation Taxes, counties primarily have only Property and Sales Taxes which are very volatile as we have seen in this recession.
  • While finances are limited, demand for county services constantly grows, driven in part by population increases of 5,000 to 6,000 new residents each year.
  • About 77% of the county’s General Fund goes to support the Criminal Justice System.
  • Without some type of financial help for the county, projections indicate budget reductions will be necessary again in 2012 and beyond.

With those challenges facing us in the near future, we need your help in designing the 2011 budget and especially those spending plans for future years. The easiest way to learn more about the budget is to visit the Thurston County Web Site and look for “Budget” under the quick links menu. We encourage you to contact us with questions, comments and suggestions. You can call the Commissioner’s Office at 360-786-5440. If you would like to email all three of us at the same time, you can do so at this address-Thurston County Commissioners

Thanks very much for your patience as we continue to work under some very difficult circumstances. Hopefully, the financial flood waters will not rise too quickly or too deeply in the coming years.

Thank-you, your Thurston County Commissioners- Cathy Wolfe-District One, Sandra Romero- District Two and Karen Valenzuela- District Three.

By Thurston County Commissioners

Creation of the budget for next year is underway. Creation of the budget for next year is underway.