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Posted on: September 25, 2012

Executive proposes spending less on general government in 2013

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy proposes spending less on general government services in 2013 than is budgeted for this year.

The Executive's 2013 budget proposal makes strategic cuts in most departments to achieve a $1.6 million reduction in the General Fund, which receives undesignated revenues that finance the majority of traditional services associated with county government.

"We are not relying on grants or bailouts or wishes for better times. This is a stable and sustainable budget," McCarthy said. "It relies on realistic revenue assumptions, builds on our goal of enhancing customer service, and continues investments in key areas that help our economy and communities grow and prosper."

McCarthy outlined themes and highlights during her annual budget address to the County Council at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

Under the Executive's proposal:

• General Fund spending would drop from $275.6 million this year to $274 million in 2013.
• Approximately 79 percent of the General Fund would be dedicated to public safety – the same percentage as this year.• Total spending - this includes construction, utilities, etc. - would increase by nearly $45 million to $884 million. The increase is primarily due to work on the expansion of the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is needed to accommodate growth, replace aging infrastructure and protect Puget Sound.
• A total of 49 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions would be cut, including 33 in the General Fund. At least half would come from vacancies through retirements or departures. If these reductions are approved, the County will have cut 514 positions – nearly 15 percent of its workforce – since 2008.

The Executive noted that negotiations continue with all 23 of the county's labor units, so decisions have not been made regarding 2013 salaries and benefits.

McCarthy has spent four years making strategic spending cuts that preserve core services amid less revenue from sales and property taxes. Her administration has focused on resetting processes and using technology to improve the delivery of services. One highlight is the Planning and Land Services Department, which has seen a 10 percent increase in permits issued despite a 25 percent decrease in walk-ins to the Development Center and losing more than half its staff in the past three years.

"I am proud of the efforts by our leaders and staff to find ways to provide services more efficiently," McCarthy said. "We will continue to make the kind of sound financial decisions that recently prompted Standard & Poor's to upgrade the county's bond rating."

Next month, the County Council will hold a series of budget hearings that will be televised on Pierce County TV (channel 22 on Comcast and Click!) as well as streamed live and archived at www.piercecountytv.org. The Council will announce the hearings schedule as soon as dates are confirmed. Final approval of a 2013 budget is expected in November.

MEDIA CONTACT:Hunter George, Pierce County Communications director
(253) 798-6606hgeorge@co.pierce.wa.us

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