September 19, 2017
Meeting was called to order at 7:30am by Vice President Matthew Rainwater. Sheriff Bill Benedict led the flag salute.
Danetta Rutton, Pete Peterson, etc.
Gerry Austin praised Cherie Kidd for her upcoming participation in the Mrs. Senior America Pageant to be held in Atlantic City in October and wished her good luck.
Program featured Sheriff Bill Benedict, Danetta Rutton, Retired Probation Officer and Kaj Ahlburg, PABA member.
Sheriff Benedict said he could not legally advocate for the upcoming Juvenile Justice Tax Initiative but said funding is needed for services and facilities. he said car tabs used to fund almost all the Juvenile Family Services facility but now the County has to pick up 60% of the costs. The tax of 1/10th of 1% or 1 cent on $10.00 will go directly to the Facility. The possible $900,000 to $1.1 million would help finance equipment, repairs, maintenance and operations. Citizens will pay about $14.00 a year or the price of 3 mochas or a 6 pack of beer (which he does not drink). He said a majority of those served (about 700) a year are from the County: 267 from PA; 102 from Sequim; 56 from Forks; and 101 from the unincorporated areas. Users from out of the County come to about 175. “Juvie” services, ages 10 – 17, includes schooling, counseling and medical care. Violent crimes are going down but opioid problems are driving property crime up. Even though the facility might not be at full capacity, costs are not going down.
Danetta Rutton, joined the Sheriff in addressing the importance of the tax. She said that most of the cases that the facility handles involved kids who have parents who do not know how to parent, or who probably spend most of the household income on drugs and drink. She said most kids started out doing just dump mistakes. The facility is not just for lockup, holds 35, but also helps with “at risk youth”, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), Detention, Diversion, Drug Court, probation and truancy.
Kaj Ahlburg, presented several possible funding sources besides a tax increase. He pointed out that the County had hired 29FTE while the population growth should warrant only 4FTE. He said salary/benefits have increased higher than the CPI. He also questions the amount of funds being spent on a Public Defender.
Q & A:
Q: Other tax increases passed by the voters?
SB: Dispatch Center and Mental Health Facility. Most property tax goes to Federal and State while only 8% stays in the County. Some monies do come back to the County for education/schools.
Q: Is the County going broke?
SB: Costs for the Public Defender are set by the State, not by the County.
Q: Why on the ballot?
SB: Inflation has outpaced revenues. Departments are NOT overstaffed. The tax will give voters a chance to take a responsible approach that will save money down the road. Budget talks are live streamed so any one can voice their opinion and options before the budget is passed. Payments from other counties that use to contract with Clallam County, are down since other counties are now running their own facilities. (San Juan is the only one left.) Clallam does not charge cities any more than expenses. The local facility is over 20 years and even though in good shape, still needs upgrading. Clallam is unique in that it is one of a few to have lock down facilities. In other Counties, inmates can simply walk away.
Mark O. said inflation has outpaced revenue. He agrees that departments are not overstaffed and pointed out the importance of customer service. He feels the Commissioners take a responsible approach to budgeting and finance.
Randy J. said Clallam is unique in that, unlike many other counties, it does not have to borrow from reserves or from other departments.
Pete P. said the County does not charge cities above expenses. Kids come from all parts of the County and some commit crimes in more than one city. He said that parents, when they can be found, cannot be forced to pay for help. Many parents are more of a problem than their kids. Two hundred kids are in foster care because they are runaways. Unfortunately, the State law says that kids must be returned to their parents, where the problem started in the first place.
Q: What are arrearage funds?
Randy J: The County is still 6-12 months from expecting any funding.
Q: What happens if the Initiative is voted down?
SB: Law says the facility cannot be shut down so other County services will have to be cut, even in the Sheriff’s office, to pay for services.
Sept. 26: Port Candidates
Meeting adjourned at 8:45am.