Clark County Council public hearings scheduled this month
VANCOUVER — County Manager Shawn Henessee has recommended a budget to the county council that emphasizes a balance between the increase in both the demand and cost of providing critical public services.
“We are faced with trying to balance the challenges of an increase in demand for county services due population growth with providing the high quality services our community deserves,” said Henessee.
The county council will consider the $545.27 million budget during a public hearing beginning at 2 p.m. Mon., Nov. 25. The county’s other elected officials will be first to testify on budgets proposed by their departments.
Anyone interested may testify when the hearing continues at 10 a.m. Tue., Nov. 26. If needed, public testimony will be continued to 10 a.m. Wed., Nov. 27. All sessions will be in the sixth-floor hearing room in the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.
After public testimony, the council will deliberate and make a decision on the 2020 budget. Per state law, the county budget must be adopted after the budget hearings and prior to the beginning of the next fiscal period, Jan. 1, 2020.
The county manager’s recommendation comes on the heels of a year-long review of all departments to look for efficiencies within their existing budgets.
“The budget deep dive project over the last year was a considerable amount of work, but in the end it makes this recommended 2020 budget much more achievable,” said Henessee. “Moving forward, we are going to have to continue to look for those efficiencies and cost savings in order to have a more sustainable General Fund.”
Henessee told the council in a work session last week that most of the recommended budget updates dealt with software and cybersecurity needs, critical law and justice safety needs, infrastructure upkeep and replacement, and maintaining service levels while meeting increase workload demands.
Henessee included in his recommended budget a request to set aside $700,000 for a multi-campus space planning project for county buildings. This study would include law and justice services such as the county jail.
On the revenue side, he recommended that the council enact a 1 percent property tax increase allowed by state law which will increase revenues by $639,370. Henessee also recommended increasing property taxes by an additional .979 percent of “banked capacity” available to the county because it did not enact the 1 percent increase in recent years. This would increase revenues by $621,315.
The complete 2020 recommended budget can be found on the county’s website at https://www.clark.wa.gov/budget/2020-budget.
Clark County Today will continue to report on this story.
Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.