Thurston County Commissioners voted 2-1 Friday to adopt a nearly $330 million budget for 2016.
Commissioner Bud Blake voted against the spending plan.
“I want more deputies and a few more deputy prosecuting attorneys,” he told The Olympian. “I think public safety needs to be addressed more than it was in this budget cycle.”
The county expects modest growth in revenue, with property tax and sales tax both up slightly. But officials say it wasn’t enough to keep up with inflation.
Commission Chairwoman Cathy Wolfe said they received about $12 million in additional funding requests from department heads and elected officials.
“We only had about $800,000 that we felt we could possibly part with and be sound fiscally, and keep a strong ending fund balance for reserves,” she told The Olympian recently. “We had to make some pretty painful decisions.”
About $93.1 million of the budget is the county’s general fund, which is directly overseen by the commissioners. Most of the county’s 18 departments received enough funding to continue the same level of services they provided in 2015, officials say.
“The 2016 budget allows us to continue to provide quality programs and services throughout the entire county,” Commissioner Sandra Romero said in a news release. “Pot holes will continue to be filled, clean drinking water will still be a priority, and families can still rely on health inspections at restaurants.”
The spending plan also allows the county to keep about $10 million in reserve, officials say.
Blake said he still plans to fight for more support for the Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. When the county’s revenues come in, there might be opportunities to find additional funding and amend the budget to cover some of those departments’ requests, he said.
It was the first county budget cycle for Blake, who was elected in November 2014. He said he thinks he surprised his fellow commissioners by not approving the budget.
“I just really wanted to take a stance,” Blake said. “…We worked it out. It was very professional — very well done. That’s democracy.”