Island County budget includes new facilities, staff

Island County is anticipating the construction of two major facilities in 2020 and adding several new staff members in its $110 million budget for 2020.

Budget Manager Doug Martin said there aren’t any major changes from last year in the draft document, which will be voted on following a public hearing 10 a.m., Monday Dec. 2. Commissioners are also expected to increase current expense and county road property taxes by the allowed 1 percent, which will add approximately $86,087 and $88,681 respectively to the road current expense and road funds.

By state law, the county may only collect 1 percent more from the levies than the previous year for each fund. The board is not expected to increase the conservation futures property tax levy amount, as it has chosen to do for the last two years. It will continue to be taxed at the same amount as last year and will receive some tax revenue from new construction.

This year, the county anticipates the completion of a mental health crisis stabilization and detox center in Oak Harbor. The state Legislature allocated about $5 million to the project over the last two budget sessions. The North Sound Behavioral Health Organization also contributed $1 million toward the facility.

The county is also constructing a Camano administration building, expected to cost $6.7 million. This will be paid through debt, paid off over five years with real estate excise tax revenue.

Commissioners accepted a request for a deputy and clerk in the sheriff’s office in the 2020 budget, which results in about a 5 percent increase in the department’s overall budget.

The county allocated $115,000 toward the deputy position, which includes equipment and training as well as salary and benefits. The civil clerk is budgeted at $71,000, Martin said. Both positions are paid out of the county’s current expense fund.

There are also a part-time positions being added to the prosecutor’s and coronor’s offices and hours were added to the Camano animal control officer’s position.

A previously temporary paralegal in the prosecuting attorney’s office is now being funded on an ongoing basis.

Martin said the county’s full-time equivalent employees increased by about 5.5 from last year, bringing the total FTE to 444.4, excluding elected officials.

He is predicting about an 8 percent increase in sales tax revenue in 2020, which he said is “solid” although it’s a smaller increase than last year. From 2018 to 2019, the projected increase in sales tax revenue was about 12 percent.

He said growth has been weakening slightly but not to the point of concern and his estimates are conservative.

Changes in state funding will result in a loss of more than $300,000 to human services’ mental health fund.

Many of those services are now going to be funded by state managed care organizations, which are not distributing money to counties, according to Human Services Director Jackie Henderson.

Commissioners will accept public comment about the budget and proposed levy increases at the public hearing Monday.

The full document is available in meeting documents on the commissioner’s page of Island County’s website, www.islandcountywa.gov

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