Snohomish County budget likely to hit law enforcement agencies

EVERETT — When Dave Somers delivers his first budget address as Snohomish County executive Friday, listen for what’s not included, rather than what is.

Since campaigning for his job last year, Somers has stressed that finances are tight in county government, despite the region’s overall prosperity. Local government revenues aren’t keeping up with costs, such as salaries and health care benefits, legal settlements and technology needs.

Estimates from earlier this year suggested the need to trim $6 million from the county’s operating budget, which is now about $230 million.

“It’s going to affect some of the services we provide; we’ve got to decide which ones,” said County Council Chairman Terry Ryan, who will have a lead role reworking the executive’s plan.

Somers’ job didn’t become any easier this summer after voters rejected a sales-tax measure known as Proposition 1. That would have generated millions of dollars for county public safety agencies and human services. The executive had warned of 3 percent cuts to county departments if the proposition failed.

With 75 cents of every general fund dollar spent by the county on cops, courts and corrections, law enforcement is certain to take a hit. Sheriff Ty Trenary has been working to make trims without sacrificing deputies. He recently alerted staff that the work release program at the jail — a $1.3 million annual expense — could be a casualty.

So expect more cuts when Somers rolls out a 2017 spending plan. That’s scheduled to happen at 11 a.m. Friday in the county’s Robert Drewel building.

From then on, it’s up to the County Council to shape the plan.

“The council will work with the executive and other electeds (elected officials) to do the best we can under difficult circumstances,” Ryan said.

Two public budget hearings are being scheduled for October.

Council members typically pass a budget before Thanksgiving. Somers is releasing his proposal about a week earlier than normal, potentially giving the council a chance to finish by mid-November.

Somers has said his priorities for next year include launching reforms of county government, saving taxpayers money, investing in infrastructure and innovation and prioritizing economic growth.

In a major exercise in executive belt-tightening, Somers in May recommended mothballing plans to build a new county courthouse, and renovating the 1960s-era court building at less than half the cost. Repairs are intended to address emergency issues, such as barely functioning elevators and the building’s earthquake readiness.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Head-on crash on south Whidbey Island hospitalizes 3 people

Alcohol or drugs were involved, per the Washington State Patrol. Two victims are Lake Forest Park teens.

Marysville man dies after motorcycle crash on Ingraham Boulevard

The man, 58, was heading east when he lost control in the single-vehicle crash, according to police.

Builders work on the Four Corners Apartments on Beverly Lane near Evergreen and 79th Place SE on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Everett, Washington. DevCo, the real estate company building the affordable housing, is receiving a $1 million grant from the city of Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
As Washington rents go up, up, up, the air gets thin for tenants

Hal Zack’s rent has tripled, and he’s scared he’ll be homeless soon. How did we get here? And what is the state doing now?

People walk down through a row of trees planted in remembrance of those lost in the Oso Mudslide on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 in Oso, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oso mudslide 9th year memorial set for Wednesday

The public is invited to attend this year’s remembrance ceremony at the site of the slide that killed 43 people in 2014.

An Everett police officer and deputies with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office were involved in an officer-involved shooting on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at the 800 block of 91st Pl SW in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Officers identified in fatal shooting of Everett man

Everett police officer Blake Wintch had seven years of service, while Snohomish County Deputy Myles Bittinger had nine years.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
New forecast show state revenues won’t be quite as robust as expected

Democratic budget writers say they will be cautious but able to fund their priorities. Senate put out a capital budget Monday.

The wreckage of a vehicle that struck a parked semi trailer on Alderwood Mall Parkway on July 26, 2017 in Lynnwood, Washington. Three teenagers were killed and one survived. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
County pays $500K to settle with lone survivor of fatal car crash

Four teenagers in a Kia Sorrento crashed into a parked semi truck on Alderwood Parkway in 2017. Only one survived.

Richard Rotter listens to witness questioning in his trial at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘It is going to be grim’: Trial begins in Everett officer’s slaying

After days of jury selection, 15 people were empaneled to decide if Richard Rotter is guilty of aggravated first-degree murder.

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Drive to build new AquaSox ballpark gets $7.4M boost from state

The proposed Senate capital budget contains critical seed money for the city-led project likely to get matched by the House.

Most Read