We are all linked together in figuring out how to increase jobs that pay living wages in Island County.
Having all Island County departments be open at full-time levels is a very important step in meeting the needs of our recovering economy. When the county only works at 4/5 speed, that negatively affects our local economy each and every week. When the county closures linger for several years, the economic problems multiply.
A few weeks ago, I decided to compare Island County’s “Friday furlough days” to all Washington state counties. I called all 39 counties, including Island County.
Island County is the only county with a majority of departments closed on Fridays. Only two other counties have any reduced hours or closures in 2014. Island County has 18 departments that do not work 52 Fridays per year.
• Island County: 18 departments closed on Fridays. The current Island County website shows a total of 24 departments, with only six open on Fridays (clerk, district court, human services, juvenile court, prosecutor, and superior court are open). Even the sheriff’s department is not open on Fridays.
• Jefferson County: one department closed on Fridays. Planning and community development is closed on Fridays. All other departments are open.
• Kitsap County: two departments closed on Fridays. Treasurer and assessors offices are closed on Fridays. All other departments are open.
Most of the counties did not have closures in 2013, let alone 2014. A few people laughed at the survey, which I phrased as a survey on Washington counties to see which may have budget/furlough closures in 2013 or 2014. Really, some laughed. Some were just astonished at the question.
We’ve all heard about the multiplier effect of how a dollar moves through a local economy and grows. Dollars that do not get spent because citizens get tired of the waiting due to a lack of hours in a week to do county business cause major damage to our local economy.
The need for this county to get back to work is urgent.