By Marcy Stamper
Okanogan County commissioners and staff are still finalizing their $56.7 million budget for 2015.
The biggest change is accommodating the new position of county coroner, which is mandated by state law based on passing a population threshold. The $143,000 to set up that office comes from reshuffling the other items in the county’s current expense fund. Current expense, which pays for most county departments, salaries and office supplies, amounts to almost $20 million for next year, a very slight reduction from 2014.
The other biggest proposed increases are a 13.5-percent boost for the Superior Court clerk’s office, a 12-percent increase for Juvenile and Family Services, and an 11-percent increase for the Sheriff’s Office.
Five-percent increases are proposed for the Planning Department, Superior Court, Central Services (computing and technology), and the Building Department. Miscellaneous expenditures such as insurance, software and public defenders are also slated for a 5-percent increase.
The biggest proposed reductions include a 9.5-percent cut in the allocations for both the County Commissioners’ and Auditor’s offices.
The remainder of the budget goes for Public Works ($21 million); miscellaneous funds, such as the Noxious Weed Office, probation services and tourism marketing ($9 million); and junior taxing districts including fire and EMS districts ($6.7 million).
There are no layoffs proposed in this budget.
All numbers are still preliminary, as the commissioners and department heads are still working out the details. The commissioners have scheduled a budget-adoption hearing for Dec. 30.