Citizens voice their concerns about Asotin County Budget

CLARKSTON, WA - During this time of year, budget meetings seem to take over the lives of our local elected officials.

As the budget season comes to an end, public hearings are taking place so constituents can voice their concerns regarding budget recommendations.

The Stormwater Management Team is recommending the commissioners reduce stormwater fees from $5 to $4 a month for county residents.

"It would reduce the revenues but it would also make a reduction in expenses," said Asotin Co. Stormwater Coordinator Cheryl Sonnen.

Sonnen said they've cut back on expenses by about $100,000 for next year. With reduced expenses projected, they'll be able to hire two full-time Operation and Maintenance staff to take the work load off of employees in the local public works departments.

"They were taking time away from their already designated duties to assume additional duties," said Public Works Director Jim Bridges.

The $4 ERU rate will sustain the estimated 2013 budget and fund capital reserves until 2015 when they expect $1-million dollars to accumulate.

The Building and Planning department also had a public hearing regarding a proposed increase in building permit fees. Building Official & County Planner Karst Riggers is proposing 42 to 43% increases in residential permits and 45% increases in commercial building permits. Riggers says the increases are absolutely necessary to keep their department afloat.

"It's not to create a huge surplus and we're just scrapping by right now and drawing out of our reserves for the last several years," said Riggers.

Concerned citizen Rick Rogers, among other constituents, expressed the increase isn't necessary.

"Keep your management style right where it is," said Rogers. "Where you're just a few bucks shy of running out of money because that's good management."

The county commissioners will review the public input presented last night, along with the proposals and vote to approve or deny the requests next Monday.

In other county news, a bond for the Asotin County Family Aquatic Center received refinancing approval which will save the county approximately $300,000 in money they would've spent on interest.