District 1 Commissioner Mark Ozias told those attending the Oct. 2 Forks Chamber meeting that the commissioners are working on an effort to try to handle strategic capital, lots of investments and “being careful how we do that, in all areas of the county.”
The commissioners have set goals and are working on them. Bill Peach added, “We are doing okay, no tax increases.”
The two shared that they work well together, Commissioner Randy Johnson could not make the meeting, and the three recently worked out a plan on fireworks and decided to not implement the septic tax and to continue to fund that program from within.
Peach also spoke of his work on the Board Of Natural Resources saying the board would extend the timeline to Dec. 31, 2019 with regard to the Marbled Murrelet decision. “This decision could be heartbreaking for the Cape Flattery School district, a decrease of funding would have a huge impact,” Peach said.
Mark Lane Clallam County chief financial officer discussed the county’s preliminary budget saying it was still a work in progress and it would be finalized the first week in December.
“We have some difficult challenges,” Lane said, “we are dealing with court costs for multiple homicides in the county.” Lane shared the county has seen robust property sales but there is uncertainty for next year. “We took a realistic approach, we still expect some growth but are being more modest.”
Personnel costs make up most of the expenses, the county employs about 485 employees. It was stated that the new CFO inherited a strong legacy of accounting.
Areas of need in the budget are aging infrastructure, department budget requests above their regular needs, and additional court costs. Lane said they just can’t fulfill every request, but some costs aren’t optional.
Other topics of discussion included mental health costs in the jail, and the county is also looking at a big impact from those retiring in the next few years as longtime employees are aging.
Questions from the audience included the county strategic plan, housing shortages, the Olympic Discovery Trail and its progress into the West End.