Tuesday’s public meeting and lunch with the county commissioners
drew a lively crowd of about 75 to Country Meadows Red Barn in
Commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Josh Brown fielded questions on
everything from park closures to raising county revenues.
Commissioner Steve Bauer could not attend because he was in
Washington, D.C., representing the county with the Navy League.
Lisa Ballou and other members of the Kitsap Tribabes were there to
protest the planned summer closures of Horseshoe Lake in South
Kitsap and Wildcat Lake in Central Kitsap, where the group usually
trains for triathlons.
Brown, who represents CK, said the county faced a severe budget
crisis and that closing the two parks was a revenue saver since
they are expensive to maintain and do not make money.
Garrido held up an oversize dollar bill to show what portion of the
property tax dollar goes to the county. It showed just 9.5 cents
going to the county general fund. Another 13.3 cents goes to county
roads, while the bulk of the rest goes to the state general fund,
local schools and fire districts.
The commissioners said that 70 percent of their $82.7 million
operating budget for 2010 goes for law and justice services. Parks,
while a treasured resource, are “discretionary,” meaning they are
not a legally mandated county service.
“Some of the best things we do as a county are discretionary,”
The county has already laid off staff, cut staff hours and closed
the county administration building on Fridays to save money. Last
year the deficit grew from $1.8 million to $5.9 million causing a
major midyear budget reduction that remains in effect this
It’s not easy for the county to raise revenues, Brown said. He has
recently lobbied in Olympia with other county officials for the
counties to have more flexibility in raising and spending a small
portion of sales tax. Currently counties may raise sales tax by 1
tenth of 1 percent for mental health services. While our local
legislators are sensitive to Kitsap County needs, the Legislature
as a whole is so caught up in the state budget crisis that it
hasn’t paid much attention to county concerns, Brown said.
Despite all the gloom, the commissioners did see some rays of hope
for the future. Brown said the new YMCA to be built in CK should be
a successful public-private partnership. One day he hopes to see
satellite Ys in North and South Kitsap.
Garrido noted that the county will be spending $2.3 million in
stimulus funds for energy upgrades including replacing single-pane
windows in the old county courthouse building.
The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap.
Next month, on March 23, the League will hold a lunch and public
meeting on health care from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Silverdale
Beach Hotel. For information call 360-598-3508.
Commissioner Josh Brown listens to
concerns during the League meeting Tuesday.
Commissioner Charlotte Garrido displays
an oversize bill to show that only 9.5 cents of the property tax
dollar goes to the county general fund.
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