McCarthy seeks to trim county budget by $1.6M, cut 49 positions

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy proposes spending less on general government services in 2013 than is budgeted for this year, according to a budget proposal presented to Pierce County Council Tuesday.

McCarthy wants to cut $1.6 million from the county’s General Fund, which receives undesignated revenues that finance the majority of traditional services associated with county government. Under McCarthy’s plan, General Fund spending would drop from $275.6 million this year to $274 million in 2013. Approximately 79 percent of the General Fund would be dedicated to public safety, the same percentage as this year. Total spending would increase by nearly $45 million to $884 million. The increase is primarily due to work on the expansion of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is needed to accommodate growth, replace aging infrastructure and protect Puget Sound, according to McCarthy. A total of 49 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions would be cut, including 33 in the General Fund. At least half would come from vacancies through retirements or departures. If these reductions are approved, the county will have cut 514 positions, nearly 15 percent of its workforce, since 2008.

“We are not relying on grants or bailouts or wishes for better times. This is a stable and sustainable budget,” McCarthy said. “It relies on realistic revenue assumptions, builds on our goal of enhancing customer service, and continues investments in key areas that help our economy and communities grow and prosper.”

The Executive noted that negotiations continue with all 23 of the county’s labor units, so decisions have not been made regarding 2013 salaries and benefits.

The Executive’s budget proposal is available online at Next month, Pierce County Council will hold a series of budget hearings that will be televised on Pierce County TV (channel 22 on Comcast and Click!) as well as streamed live and archived at The Council will announce the hearings schedule as soon as dates are confirmed. Final approval of a 2013 budget is expected in November.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. (FILE PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)