County taps solid waste account to pay bills

To fatten this year's pinched budget, Island County grabbed a few dollars out of its Solid Waste Department reserves last week.

The measure, originally proposed by Commissioner Bill Thorn, moves 50 percent of the interest earned by Island County Solid Waste's $4.5 million working capital reserve into the county's current expense fund.

The interest accumulates monthly at a varying interest rate that was 2.3 percent in December.

Budget Director Elaine Marlowe said Wednesday she thinks between $50,000 and $60,000 of interest earnings from the solid waste reserves should flow to the county's current expense fund for this year.

This diversion of funds is temporary, though indefinite. The reason no time limit was set, Marlowe said, is that such a move avoids the necessity of passing yet another resolution.

Thorn on Tuesday said he had originally suggested the board approve a transfer of all the interest income.

"In the course of the budget process, I had proposed that we take 100 percent of the interest from the solid waste fund into current expense," he said at last week's board of commissioners meeting.

Thorn pointed out that the potential "downside" of taking money out of the reserve is that tipping fees would increase, which he said is not likely at this point.

"We looked at that, and it's not a big deal," Thorn said. "It's a trivial impact in this instance."

Thorn added that such funds transfers, which he said are legal under state law, are not unusual.

"It was a very reasonable thing to do," he said.

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