GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY: They sought cuts but got spendier budgets

Grays Harbor County commissioners asked department heads to come up with 10 percent in cuts to deal with a minimum $1.5 million shortfall expected for the 2010 budget. Instead, most department heads turned in individual budgets that offered no layoffs, minimum salary and benefit cuts and, after all the numbers were in, added up to an additional $572,100 in new spending, according to data reviewed by The Daily World last week.

County Commissioner Mike Wilson told the newspaper that he has called off plans for a “brown-bag session,” for which he planned to invite the county’s employees and the public so everybody could see what the challenges are.

Instead, he planned to meet with union leaders and the elected and appointed department heads to talk about the budget.

The $1.5 million revenue shortfall for next year’s $24.4 million operating budget doesn’t even factor in the county’s contractually mandated raises for employees, which would cost the county a few hundred thousand dollars more.

To balance the budget, some of those raises might have to be given back, Wilson said. And if that doesn’t happen, more layoffs may be inevitable.