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Commissioners OK $74.4 million budget

The Kitsap County Commissioners approved a $74.4 million general fund budget for 2002 — a 9 percent increase over the 2001 budget — on Monday, Dec. 17.

“This budget is an increase over last year and a bigger one than I wanted to see,” Commissioner Chris Endresen said. “All but four of the additional employees to be funded are for law and justice services, such as the jail and Prosecutor’s Office. I think that confirms our commitment to public safety.”

Commissioner Jan Angel agreed with Endresen and said the 2002 county budget was the best resolution to a difficult situation.

“This is the best we can do,” Angel said. “We need to be sure to keep in touch with our state representatives and we will monitor the sales taxes. There are a lot of unknowns.”

The county is tapping $6 million in reserves to balance next year’s budget. The money will help pay for 28 new corrections employees, who are being hired before the expected June 2003 opening of the expanded Kitsap County Jail.

The budget includes more than 47 new full-time positions:

• In the Sheriff’s Department, a new evidence clerk and an accounting assistant were approved. One is fully funded, while Sheriff Steve Boyer has been tasked with finding funding elsewhere in his budget for the other position.

• Two deputy prosecutors and two legal assistants were added to Prosecutor Russ Hauge’s office.

• A District Court probation officer was added.

• A new personnel analyst will join the county’s Personnel and Human Services Department.

The budget also covers a roughly $1 million increase in health insurance premiums, as negotiated in binding arbitration.

“This wasn’t easy,” Commissioner Tim Botkin said. “There was a long list of things left out of the budget.”

Botkin said county agencies and department heads need to look closely at their budgets next year and find ways to implement efficiencies.

“Let’s be sure we’re being as cost-effective as we can,” Botkin said.

The commissioners also approved a 1 percent increase in property tax collections for next year, the most allowed under Initiative 747.

“There was a succession of years where there were 6 percent increases, but that has gone down since 1999,” Botkin said.

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