2013 Year End Report to District I Citizens
Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire (R)
My sincerest hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas season! I’m a little tardy with this 2013 report because I injured two fingers in January and am just now getting back my typing speed.
Carlsborg wastewater system: proceeds at a quickening pace. I expect we’ll be ready to solicit bids for construction within this year. The cost numbers are settling as I expected, and contain no surprises. Budgeted sums are sufficient and I had long thought, it is very much more cost effective to move effluent to Sequim for treatment at the City sewage plant. Wastewater utility costs for those in the Carlsborg urban growth area will be reasonable. Common sense has won the day in this instance, and I’m glad of it.
The Water Resources Inventory Area 18-east (WRIA-18E) water rule has been in effect since January 2, 2013 and the Department of Ecology still at this writing has a significant amount of work to do to get the thing working right. My work with Senator Jim Hargrove paid off – the Legislature provided $2 million for water supply, streamflow restoration, and mitigation of groundwater consumption in the area covered by the rule. I continue to encourage and insist Ecology get this right.
As the year ended, negotiations had pretty much wrapped up with seven of our eight labor union bargaining units, and the contracts are all affordable, given what we think our financial position will be in the coming years. The one remaining contract will cover the majority of county workers. Negotiations are moving slowly but are ongoing, and I’m hopeful that we can reach a successful, affordable agreement with that union as well.
Once again, I voted not to raise general property taxes by the allowed 1%, since Clallam’s general government property tax levy has outpaced inflation over the last 10 years; but also like last year, I voted to increase the County road tax levy by the allowed 1%, since inflation has significantly reduced purchasing power in the road budget. Roads are a fundamental function of County government and we must keep up with our transportation network as best as we can. Workforce participation rates and median household incomes are such that folks are pretty strapped. County government cannot and must not overstress family budgets by causing tax levels to grow too fast. As always, the best way to increase tax revenues is for the County’s economy to move faster. Below are a few selected graphs depicting my thinking behind my votes on taxes:
Which leads me to a brief discussion of the Clallam Economic Development Council – I represent County government on the Council, and as you know, the resignation of the long-time executive director late in the year led to a wide-ranging discussion of our County’s economic future, and how to move toward it more quickly. I intend to be a strong contributor to those discussions. Stay tuned!
That’s enough for now – my best wishes to you and yours for the great year of 2014!