Pierce County Council budget action begins today

Pierce County Council members will craft their version of the 2009 county budget during two-a-day hearings beginning today in the Council Chambers.

The Committee of the Whole meetings will be a chance for the full council to hear presentations from county department directors and to make their own changes to the proposed $851.7 million budget.

Departments are scheduled to present their portions of the budget on the following days:

— Nov. 12 – (9 a.m.) Clerk of the Superior Court Kevin Stock, Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Horne, Performance Audit Coordinator Matt Temmel; (1:30 p.m.) Planning and Land Services Director Chuck Kleeberg

— Nov. 13 – (9 a.m.) Superior Court Presiding Judge Thomas Larkin and Administrator Andra Motyka; (1:30 p.m.) Parks and Recreation Services

— Nov. 14 – (9 a.m.) Sheriff Paul Pastor, Corrections Bureau Chief Rob Masko; (1:30 p.m.) Facilities Management Director Bret Carlstad

— Nov. 19 – (1:30 p.m.) Public Works and Utilities Director Brian Ziegler

— Nov. 20 – (1:30 p.m.) Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Director Dr. Anthony L-T Chen and Deputy Director Laurie Jinkins

The county’s general fund faces a projected $8 million revenue shortfall this year due to a decrease in taxes and fees being collected. Specifically, less construction throughout the county has amounted to a steep drop in sales-tax revenue, and the proceeds from other taxes and fees have decreased as well. The County Executive’s 2009 preliminary budget calls for eliminating 71 staff positions and using $3.4 million of general-fund balance — the county’s savings account — to balance the budget. Approximately $25 million would remain in fund balance, which is 8.7 percent of the total general fund.

Since receiving the executive’s budget proposal on Sept. 22, councilmembers have conducted informal budget retreats in the Council Chambers to examine individual sections of the document. After Committee of the Whole meetings are completed, the councill will likely take final action on the budget at its regular 3 p.m. meeting on Nov. 25. The Council Chambers are on the 10th floor of the County-City Building (930 Tacoma Ave. S., Room 1045) in Tacoma. C-RCC TV will broadcast each hearing live on channel 22 or 78 and stream it live on the Web. Visit http://www.piercecountywa.gov/pc/abtus/ourorg/council/budget_2009.htm for more information.