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It’s people’s turn with budget

11:22 am October 24th, 2012

The first of at least eight hearings scheduled by the County Council was held last Wednesday, with budget director Gary Robinson giving a general overview of the county’s finances. Elected and appointed leaders of county departments – including Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Sheriff and courts – will be part of question-and-answer sessions today and tomorrow. More meetings are tentatively scheduled between Oct. 26 and Nov. 5 as final steps in the public-input process before council votes Nov. 6 or Nov. 13 on a final budget for 2013.

County Executive Pat McCarthy has proposed a budget of $884 million that calls for about $1.5 million in reduced spending in the portion of the budget that covers general expenses for running county government. She also proposes eliminating 49 jobs, half of which already are vacant through resignations or retirements, and maintaining current levels of funding for police protection .

“These are very challenging times for citizens and businesses. Our job is to ensure we are spending taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently on the priorities that support Pierce County,” said Councilwoman Joyce McDonald. She encouraged citizens to contact council members with their thoughts or questions if they’re unable to attend hearings. The hearings also can be watched live online at piercecountytv.org.

Most county departments are sharing in the cutbacks proposed by McCarthy.

If the executive’s proposals are approved by the council, the county’s workforce will have shrunk by nearly 15 percent – 514 positions – since 2008, according to county officials. Approximately 79 percent of the general fund would be dedicated to public safety – the same percentage that went to the Sheriff Department and related servics this year

McCarthy said the spending plan she is backing would continue efforts to provide county services efficiently.

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