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Pierce County reviews upcoming budget, has a new bank

New county positions moved forward, the 2019 budget was tweaked ahead of its November vote and a new bank partner progressed at Wednesday's special Pierce County Finance and Personnel Committee budget review meeting.

The county committee approved new positions and reclassified others throughout various departments at the Sept. 26 meeting. But with the county operating budget over the operating tax levy limit and needing to be tweaked, it raised some concern over future budgets.

"We may not be able to deliver all the services that we have historically had, at some point in time we're going to need to pick and choose what we can do," said Jeff Holst, county chairperson and head of the committee, at the meeting.

The budget came over due to various county department requests being made before the net operating levy figures were released, and resulted in the county operating budget to be $98,025 over, according to a county administration memo. The memo detailed a plan, which moved forward on Thursday, to make up the $98,000 without any cuts to approved personnel, operational dollars or capital equipment.

As part of numerous budget approvals that led to the overage, the committee approved a new Department of Human Services social worker to help combat a straining caseload for its workers.

Other position approvals brought in a new civilian dispatcher for the sheriff's department and increased hours for a medical examiner, and the treasurer property lister. In response to committee concern over new positions driving budget issues, Jason Mathys, the county's interim administrative coordinator, admitted that in the future the county will need to assess how to find "efficiencies" with the staff on hand.

"Quite honestly, it's going to be a collaborative effort with all the departments to identify what are the current needs of the county," he said at the meeting.

To move the budget below the operating limit, the committee accepted a proposed recommendation from the county's administration department to deduct funds from bathroom and fairground bleacher budgets, among others, and replace them with outlay funds to balance the budget.

The budget and its net county levy of $19,836,805 is set to be finalized at the county's November board of supervisors meeting.

New bank moving forward

The county moved Citizens Community Federal Bank in Ellsworth forward as its choice for a banking partner. The county currently banks with First National Bank, but the contract is expiring and the bank declined to submit a new bid.

The county selected Citizens Community Federal Bank because it has no service fees and a strong interest credit, and based on the recommendation of Ehlers Investment Partners — a company that reviewed banking partner bids for the county — and the county's treasury department.

"The banking climate was very different now than what it was last time," said County Treasurer Kathy Fuchs at the meeting. "The local bank scene here in Ellsworth has especially changed."

She said seven of nine banks reached out to the county's bid requests.

Approving a new banking partner stays at the Finance and Personnel committee in November, before it is moved on to the entire board of supervisors for final approval.

Police on pace for new cars, updated salary for patrol lieutenant

The county approved plans to purchase four new 2019 police cars from Ellsworth Ford at a cost of $29,259. In a memo from County Sheriff Nancy Hove, she detailed that the county has an agreement with the dealership to order the cars, but not pay until the budget is finalized. The request will be finalized in November.

Another memo from Hove detailed that the patrol lieutenant's wage be raised to be higher than the sergeants he oversees. The county approved the wage change.

Library funding resolution

The committee moved forward a board of supervisors' resolution to keep public library reimbursements at 80 percent, under County Act 150.

In August, a push to increase the reimbursement to 85 percent failed.