Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy this week presented a budget proposal for 2015 that aims to make investments in job growth and mental health services.
“Our local economy is growing, and the county government’s overall fiscal condition is sound, balanced, and sustainable,” McCarthy told Pierce County Council during her annual budget address on Tuesday afternoon. “Pierce County is in great shape thanks to the hard work by our employees to keep finding new ways to improve our efficiency and effectiveness.”
McCarthy has proposed adding four new positions (spread among District Court, Juvenile Court and the Department of Community Connections) to assist people with mental illness and chemical dependency issues who struggle in court systems that are overburdened and ill-equipped to help them; curbing overtime in the Pierce County Jail by adding new corrections deputy positions; and making investments in key business sectors, such as aerospace and agriculture, which are poised for growth. The budget proposal also calls for additional funding for the Pierce County Veterans Bureau to provide vouchers to indigent veterans in need of basic services, such as housing and food; no growth in the number of county staff positions; and no general tax increases.
The budget proposal allows General Fund spending to increase by 2.9 percent, to $281.4 million, as a result of increases in sales tax revenues and higher property values. The General Fund covers most general government services and has the most discretion in its usage. Total county spending — including specific funds for roads, the airport and ferry system, stormwater and sewer systems, and more — will drop by 5.8 percent, to $928 million, mostly due to lower spending on the multi-year expansion of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to the budget proposal.
The complete budget proposal is available online here.
Pierce County Council will schedule public hearings this fall to review spending by department and consider any changes to McCarthy’s proposal. Councilmembers are expected to take a final vote on the 2015 budget on Mon., Nov. 17.