County budget cuts services
Property taxes going up 1 percent
Spokane County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved the county’s 2013 budget that cuts about 1 percent in county services but raises general property tax collections by 1 percent.
The general fund budget of $129 million adds seven 911 operators, a campus security coordinator and a corrections officer in Juvenile Court.
Savings were found by not filling vacant positions in departments. No layoffs were required.
The county is maintaining a fund balance of $12 million in order to keep its AA bond rating, county officials said.
Some uncertainty exists over future pay for sheriff’s deputies. The deputies are going to binding arbitration with the county.
An arbitrator will decide how much the county will have to pay deputies under a new contract based on pay at similar agencies in Washington.
In addition, residents in unincorporated areas will see a property tax hike for additional maintenance and improvements to rural roads.
The entire budget, including the general tax fund, utilities and road fund, is $468 million.
The 1 percent general property tax increase will raise $462,000.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich last week said his staff is down by 32 commissioned officers in the past three years, adding that some positions are not being filled in the 2013 budget.
Chief Executive Officer Marshall Farnell will still receive a 26 percent raise granted in July, which boosts his pay from $127,300 to $161,000 annually.