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11/26/2012

County heads to hearing with tight budget plan for 2013-2014

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Mary Keltz, Public Information Outreach
Phone: (360) 397-6012 ext. 4
mary.keltz@clark.wa.gov

Vancouver, WA – With the local economy improving slowly, the Board of Clark County Commissioners is considering a budget proposal that relies on strict cost controls to maintain current operations for the next two years.

A public hearing to examine recommendations from County Administrator Bill Barron begins at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3. Elected officials and certain department heads plan to address budgets for 2013-2014 at that time.

The hearing will resume for public comment at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, and another opportunity to speak is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5. All sessions will be in the sixth-floor hearing room of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.

Barron said current forecasts call for revenues to remain at levels comparable with 2003 through the next budget cycle. As a result, the proposed budget continues most reductions enacted to weather the recession in 2009 and 2010.

When sending recommendations to the board Nov. 6, Barron said elected officials and staff have worked intensely to stabilize and strengthen the county over the past two years, despite ongoing challenges.

“We have worked to evaluate ways to decrease and possibly avoid costs, promote cost containment, improve efficiency and identify impacts from other levels of government that increase our expenses,” he said.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important the cooperation of all county employees has been to this undertaking,” Barron said. “We have made enough progress to recommend a budget that will maintain current operations and staffing without undue financial risk.”

If approved, the next two-year budget would total $873.7 million from all sources and employ more than 1,600 people. The general fund, now estimated at $295 million, was reduced 22 percent in 2009. The county then cut 270 jobs, reduced hours and earnings for about 200 employees and began a series of general pay freezes for its entire workforce.

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