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County announces 2001 spending plan
"Each and every Kitsap County resident could spend less money in one day on basic courthouse operations than on a pack of gum, if the County Commissioners approve the recommended 2001 general fund budget, which currently totals nearly $66 million. County Administrator Malcolm Fleming on Monday presented the commissioners with the proposed general fund budget, which doesn't yet include any of the new positions department heads are asking for, or their related expenses. Altogether, those requested items could take an additional $1.33 million from the county's general fund. Over the next few months, the commissioners plan to hash out which departments require additional employees or programs, and whether the added costs are legitimate.To that end, the commissioners will pore over a list of capital outlay and other one-time expenses that spans nearly three pages of details.Fleming noted that a combination of these acquisitions could be accomplished according to the status of the general fund reserve.At the beginning of 2001, Fleming's office estimates the reserve balance will be at approximately $12.4 million, or 19 percent of projected revenues. If the commissioners shoot for a reserve balance of 7.5 percent of all revenues for 2004, then the commissioners could justify allocating $350,000 for new on-going expenses and another $1 million for one-time expenses in 2001. A 7.5 percent reserve rate, Fleming said, is commensurate with other local taxing jurisdictions around the nation and is stable enough to impress various rating agencies, said Fleming.Fleming also told commissioners that the general fund budget, which mainly pays for the county's administration and operation functions such as the Sheriff's, prosecutor's, auditor's, commissioners' and treasurer's offices, has been kept within reason.I don't think county government is cheap, nor do I think that anyone should be complacent about the cost of government at any level, warned Fleming in a prepared statement he read to the commissioners. However, I do think Kitsap County government is a very good value.Among the 230,000 residents of Kitsap County, that $66 million breaks down to about $291 a person annually, and further still to about 80 cents a day per person, Fleming said. A full pack of gum at a gas station could cost around 89 cents.All told, the recommended 2001 general fund budget would represent a 3.4 percent increase over last year's general fund budget, according to Fleming. "