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Skagit County passes 2019 budget

December 4, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County Board of Commissioners passed the county’s 2019 budget Monday, adding resources to several offices related to public safety.

Trisha Logue, budget and finance director for the county, said five changes were made after a Nov. 19 public hearing on the preliminary budget.

The largest change was the inclusion of a full-time felony prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The position was requested by Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich at the November public hearing.

The budget also provides for four new corrections officers for the Skagit County Community Justice Center and a new lawyer for the Public Defender’s Office.

The 2019 budget includes $223 million in expenses and about $201 million in revenue, Logue said. The county plans to spend $22 million of its reserves on capital projects and other one-time payments to balance the budget.

The commissioners also passed a 1 percent property tax increase, which they have chosen to take in 17 of the past 18 years.

The commissioners chose not to fund a request from the county Elections Department for an additional full-time staff member, equipment and more space to better prepare for the 2020 presidential election.

They also denied a request from the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office for a second animal control officer.

The Sheriff’s Office request would have cost the county about $75,000 in salary and benefits and about $45,000 for equipment, Logue said.

Emily Diaz, the office’s animal control officer, told the commissioners Monday that the county recognized a need for a second officer in 2007, but it scaled back that request with the economic downturn of 2008.

The commissioners haven’t considered the request since, she said.

“If the need was recognized in 2007, surely it still exists in 2018,” she said, asking them to reconsider.

Commissioner Lisa Janicki said the county already spends 72 percent of its budget on public safety.

While she said she recognizes the need for a second officer, it had to be balanced with the need for more staffing elsewhere in the system.

“What could be trimmed back to fund that?” she asked. “I need direction to what isn’t as important.”

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