County Council invites public comment on 2014 budget

PIERCE COUNTY, WA — The Pierce County Council is poised to approve a 2014 budget that improves the responsiveness of local government, invests in community programs and maintains a stable financial position.

 The Council approved the budget on second reading by a 7-0 vote on Nov. 12. The Council scheduled its final vote for Tuesday, Nov. 19 to give the public time to comment.

Highlights include:

• Funding for a deputy prosecutor who will handle cases involving elder fraud and abuse.

• Opening a new Sheriff’s precinct in the Parkland/Spanaway area, which has waited years for a more visible law enforcement presence.

• Dedicating fees from building permits to a special fund – rather than the General Fund – so that the Planning and Land Services Department has the right amount of staff to provide timely service as applications increase.

• Financial and performance audits of the Pierce County Jail to help identify cost savings so it can attract more contract business from other jurisdictions.

• Money for senior centers throughout Pierce County that provide meals and other services to the elderly.

“The economic outlook for Pierce County continues to improve,” said Council Chair Joyce McDonald (District 2). “Revenues from sales and property taxes are up, thanks to an increase in construction and consumer activity. Our conservative budgeting in recent years has left us in a stable and secure financial position, particularly because our employees found innovative ways to streamline operations.”

The General Fund, which pays for most general government services, would drop from approximately $275 million this year to $271.1 million due to the transfer of building permit fees to the special revenue fund. Total spending for 2014 amounts to $978.1 million, which includes $151 million for sewer construction as the county expands the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to accommodate growth in the region.

The budget funds 3,007 full-time equivalent positions, which is 481 fewer than in 2008. The budget includes a 1.88% cost of living adjustment for employees, the first such adjustment in three years.

There are 18 ordinances in the budget package. The main ordinance, covering the General Fund, is 2012-67s2.

The Council invites public comment by using the “contact us” link at or by calling (253) 798-7777. The Nov. 19 meeting begins at 3 p.m. in the Council Chambers, located on the 10th floor of the County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma.

Once the Council approves a budget, Executive Pat McCarthy will have 10 days to sign or veto it.

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