Snohomish County Council members (top row, from left) Sam Low, Megan Dunn, Stephanie Wright and (bottom row, from left) Jared Mead and Nate Nehring discuss the budget during an online meeting Nov. 9. (Snohomish County Council)

Snohomish County Council members (top row, from left) Sam Low, Megan Dunn, Stephanie Wright and (bottom row, from left) Jared Mead and Nate Nehring discuss the budget during an online meeting Nov. 9. (Snohomish County Council)

4 noteworthy changes in Snohomish County’s 2022 budget

The sheriff’s office gets a bump. Average homeowners will pay $7 more. And more about $1.26 billion in spending …

EVERETT — Snohomish County adopted a 2022 budget this week, outlining how to spend $1.26 billion in taxpayer money.

The budget is boosted by higher-than-expected sales tax revenue, as well as federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

County Council members largely stuck to a plan laid out by county Executive Dave Somers.

Here are four main takeaways:

A ‘Frappuccino’-sized tax hike

A property tax increase to raise $2.3 million proved a contentious part of Snohomish County’s budget proceedings this year.

Property taxes for the county’s general fund will increase 2.5%. An average homeowner can expect to see a $7.39 bump to their bill.

“It’s the cost of a Frappuccino,” Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell said. “For someone with an assessed (property) value of $1 million, it’s a couple Frappuccinos. That’s a very small price to pay to do the good work that all county government is doing.”

Without the tax hike, another economic downturn could mean across-the-board cuts to the county budget, Finance Director Nathan Kennedy told council members Wednesday.

Dozens of residents publicly testified against the increase. Nehring also called the tax bump inappropriate during a pandemic, pointing to higher-than-expected sales tax revenue and federal COVID relief funds coming into the county.

“Unfortunately, what families feel is the cumulative effect, across the board, of property taxes being increased at all levels,” he said. “… It’s the principle of adding to that.”

Attitudes toward the tax did not fall completely along partisan lines. Sheriff Adam Fortney voiced his support for Somers’ proposed budget.

“That includes the tax increase,” Fortney said. “That part is somewhat uncomfortable for me.”

Fortney added it was likely “not politically advantageous for me.”

A budget bump for law enforcement

Seventy-five percent of the county’s general fund is dedicated to law and justice, which will see significant investments in the 2022 budget.

Some capital maintenance will be deferred to help pay for three new sheriff’s deputies.

Fortney originally requested 10 new patrol deputies, but none were included in Somers’ proposed budget. The sheriff cited staffing shortages, as well as new police reform laws he said make deputies’ work take longer.

On Wednesday, Fortney said his office is working with a growing population and operating on “bare bones.”

The three new deputies were added in a budget amendment authored by Republican Councilmembers Sam Low and Nate Nehring. 

The sheriff’s office has over 700 full-time employees, with about half of those working in the jail.

The agency will also benefit from upgraded helicopters and a bigger South Precinct under the new budget.

New funding will cover body cameras.

Two new detective positions will focus on domestic violence and crimes against children, as recommended in Somers’ original proposal.

Three crime prevention officers are also funded to handle non-emergency calls. Money is included for two more designated crisis responders.

Some residents, including Snohomish County’s Regional Law and Justice Council member Luisana Hernandez, took issue with such a large percentage of the general fund going toward law enforcement.

Anthony Greene, who identified himself as an Edmonds resident associated with the Coalition of Communities of Color, echoed the sentiment.

“These funds continue the work of building on a system that fails to address root causes and meet our needs as communities of color,” Greene said.

Clearing a court backlog

Nearly $12 million will help the county prosecutor and the courts clear a massive case backlog that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

That money will fund temporary positions to address urgent needs. The county will also pay court interpreters more in an attempt to retain their services. And two new Superior Court judge positions will be funded, bringing the county’s total to 17.

In requesting the two positions last month, Superior Court Judge Millie Judge said that based on current projections, if each case in the backlog were to go to trial, it would take six years to clear.

Judge said that in the five years leading up to the pandemic, the Superior Court saw an estimated 20% jump in caseload. There was a 67% increase in cases going to trial.

The pandemic has delayed justice “in a time when the public is demanding a more responsive system,” she said Wednesday while speaking in support of the 2022 budget.

‘Hate Has No Home Here’

A few million dollars has been earmarked for the county’s new Office of Social Justice.

That includes $500,000 for a “Hate Has No Home Here” campaign spurred by recent events like racist threats in the Marysville School District, swastikas painted throughout the county and violence targeting people with Asian and Pacific Island heritage.

The 2022 budget also funds diversity, equity and inclusion training and an assessment of how Snohomish County government is reaching marginalized communities. The hope is to use the assessment for a strategic plan at the Office of Social Justice.

Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @yawclaudia.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Officers respond to a ferry traffic disturbance Tuesday after a woman in a motorhome threatened to drive off the dock, authorities said. (Photo provided by Mukilteo Police Department)
Everett woman disrupts ferry, threatens to drive motorhome into water

Police arrested the woman at the Mukilteo ferry terminal Tuesday morning after using pepper-ball rounds to get her out.

Man gets 75 years for terrorizing exes in Bothell, Mukilteo

In 2021, Joseph Sims broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Bothell and assaulted her. He went on a crime spree from there.

Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stable they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Old horse stall in Index is mini art gallery in the boonies

Frances and Allan Peterson showcase their art. And where else you can buy a souvenir Index pillow or dish towel?

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Providence to pay $200M for illegal timekeeping and break practices

One of the lead plaintiffs in the “enormous” class-action lawsuit was Naomi Bennett, of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Dorothy Crossman rides up on her bike to turn in her ballot  on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Voters to decide on levies for Arlington fire, Lakewood schools

On Tuesday, a fire district tries for the fourth time to pass a levy and a school district makes a change two months after failing.

Red Robin to pay $600K for harassment at Everett location

A consent decree approved Friday settles sexual harassment and retaliation claims by four victims against the restaurant chain.

A Tesla electric vehicle is seen at a Tesla electric vehicle charging station at Willow Festival shopping plaza parking lot in Northbrook, Ill., Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. A Tesla driver who had set his car on Autopilot was “distracted” by his phone before reportedly hitting and killing a motorcyclist Friday on Highway 522, according to a new police report. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tesla driver on Autopilot caused fatal Highway 522 crash, police say

The driver was reportedly on his phone with his Tesla on Autopilot on Friday when he crashed into Jeffrey Nissen, killing him.

Janet Garcia walks into the courtroom for her arraignment at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, April 22, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett mother pleads not guilty in stabbing death of Ariel Garcia, 4

Janet Garcia, 27, appeared in court Monday unrestrained, in civilian clothes. A judge reduced her bail to $3 million.

magniX employees and staff have moved into the company's new 40,000 square foot office on Seaway Boulevard on Monday, Jan. 18, 2020 in Everett, Washington. magniX consolidated all of its Australia and Redmond operations under one roof to be home to the global headquarters, engineering, manufacturing and testing of its electric propulsion systems.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Harbour Air plans to buy 50 electric motors from Everett company magniX

One of the largest seaplane airlines in the world plans to retrofit its fleet with the Everett-built electric propulsion system.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.