Public safety, criminal justice top Pierce County Council budget priorities

Amid cutbacks in Pierce County government, the County Council has declared that departments vital to public safety and criminal justice should be spared from any further budget reductions next year.

Councilmembers outlined their 2009 budget priorities in the annual resolution they unanimously approved and forwarded to the executive June 24. Among other things, it requests that the executive avoid cutting the budgets of the sheriff’s department, corrections bureau, prosecuting attorney, department of assigned counsel, and district and superior courts in his 2009 budget proposal.

Other priorities in the council’s resolution include:

— implementation of the Criminal Justice Task Force’s recommendations concerning future jail-space needs;

— continued full staffing of the vacant engineer position in the Public Works and Utilities Department;

— continued funding at the 2008 level for the county’s federal lobbying efforts; and

— at least $325,000 in General Fund support for senior centers.

Pierce County’s budget is composed of the General Fund — which pays for most county services with revenue from property and sales taxes and fees — and more than 60 smaller, self-supporting funds. More than 70 percent of the 2008 General Fund budget was devoted to public safety and legal/judicial services.

The council should receive the executive’s 2009 budget proposal by Sept. 23. For more information, visit .