The Pierce County Council moved forward its budget Tuesday, restoring four law enforcement deputy positions while putting potential 1 percent cost-of living raises for next year in limbo.
The council’s 2013 budget cuts 42 positions, including 26 from the general fund for core government services.
“In these difficult times, we don’t feel that it’s appropriate to be cutting employees and then giving other employees a cost-of-living” raise, Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, said.
Instead, the council used $400,000 that would have gone for raises to add back four Sheriff’s Department deputy positions.
County Executive Pat McCarthy had proposed eliminating 15 law enforcement positions – 14 of them vacant deputy jobs – in her budget.
The council also put $874,480 from the salary savings into reserves.
McCarthy’s budget had allowed for a 1 percent salary increase for employees.
McDonald said the shift to reserves “is a prudent move” because of labor negotiations for next year and the uncertainty of the economy.
In the council’s budget, the Corrections Bureau at the Pierce County Jail still loses nine positions as McCarthy proposed. All will likely come from vacancies.
Sheriff Paul Pastor had asked the council not to cut any positions in his department, which includes law enforcement and the jail. Undersheriff Eileen Bisson told the council Tuesday she realized it faced a difficult decision. Bisson said she appreciated the four law enforcement positions being restored but called the cuts to corrections “unfortunate.”
The council made amendments to the budget Monday and Tuesday. It voted unanimously Tuesday to advance the spending plan to a final vote on Nov. 13. Some of the changes to McCarthy’s budget include:
• Adding three planners for Planning and Land Services.
• Adding $180,000 for parks maintenance.
• Reducing the annual surface water management fee by 5 percent. McCarthy had proposed raising it by 5 percent. The current residential rate will decrease from $108.39 a year to $103.17.
The council also cut the surface water management fund by $2 million. Both moves were in anticipation of the surface water management fund receiving added money from a new flood-control zone district.
Today, council members, acting as the flood district’s Board of Supervisors, are expected to decide whether to adopt a countywide tax of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to pay for flood control.
McCarthy presented the council a budget of $884 million for next year. In her plan, the general fund budget drops by 0.6 percent – or $1.6 million – to $274 million.
The council’s total budget and general fund budget are both slightly higher: $884.3 million and $274.8 million, respectively.