The Latest News from County Executive Jan Gardner
Budget Focuses on Community Values: Education, Public Safety, Seniors
With the input of thousands of county citizens, I have shaped a fiscally responsible budget that reflects our community values and priorities. The budget provides record funding to ensure top-notch education for our children, an investment in police, fire, corrections and 9-1-1 communications to keep our community safe, and services that create an enviable quality of life in which to live and grow our businesses.
The budget accomplishes the following:
- EDUCATION - Provides a record amount of funding to education at $272.3 million for an almost $14 million increase over the current year. I am confident this funding commitment is adequate to achieve the second year phase-in to implement a new sustainable pay scale for teachers and staff. It is my intention that this investment in public education be used to provide the best teachers and staff in our classrooms, and to make sure our children have access to the programs and materials they need to be well prepared for work or higher education.
- PUBLIC SAFETY -- One of the fundamental responsibilities of local government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. The proposed budget provides 8 corrections officers, 4 sheriff's deputies, 12 firefighters, and 8 emergency call center (9-1-1) staff, in addition to training and equipment to meet growing call volume to keep our community safe.
- EMPLOYEES -- Provides all employees in county government with a 2% cost-of-living salary improvement. In addition, approximately 350 front-line positions out in the field, such as water/sewer, landfill, parks, Public Works, Citizens Services, and other county agencies were reclassified and will receive an additional salary improvement.
- SENIORS -- Advances key recommendations of the Seniors First initiative. These include better focusing services to seniors through collaboration with other county agencies, as well as supporting the frail elderly through Meals on Wheels, in-home health aides, and with navigation to connect people to resources. Citizens and Montevue are once again keeping the county's promise to our seniors by providing subsidized assisted living to the indigent elderly under a financially self-supporting and sustainable operating model.
- FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY -- Tax rates are held steady. The budget proposes no tax rate increases. The County's AAA bond rating has allowed us to complete more capital projects for the same money so we can build schools, roads, libraries, fire stations, and parks.
- SUSTAINABILITY -- Elevates the Office of Sustainability to help the county go green and stay green!
This budget is lean, sensible, balanced and fiscally responsible. It delivers results -- exceptional schools, a safe community, a vibrant economy, and a high quality of life. The budget acknowledges our rich history and ensures our bright future!