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Public hearing on county budget draws no interest

YAKIMA - A public hearing to solicit comments from the public on the 2011 preliminary budget for Yakima County was held yesterday (Tuesday) by the Board of Yakima County Commissioners.

No citizens showed up to give any comments.

Yakima County Budget Director Craig Warner gave the commissioners a power point presentation about the budget.

He told the commissioners the expected general fund expenditures for 2011 have come down from 2010 by almost 3 percent. However, expected expenditures in other funds, which are dedicated, have rose 19 percent.

This means an increase of 14 percent in expected expenditures for 2011. The county plans to spend $263,965,013 next year, up from the $231,275,846 for this year.

Warner said the biggest change in dedicated funds for 2011 is in human services. The county settled on $28,022,559 in human service expenditures in 2010 but has upped that to $47,996,722 for 2011. Capital projects expenditures are expected to increase by more than $10 million in 2011. Warner said that is due mostly to new bonds recently passed. The Yakima County courthouse will get a new skin on it and a security enhancement.

General fund revenues are predicted to be $51,614,336 in 2011.

Warner told the commissioners that base labor increases will total $314,415 and step increases will add $383,805 to general fund expenditures. Commissioners froze all non-exempt employees' base and step increases, which resulted in a savings of $237,945. County commissioners tried to negotiate with collective bargaining units to see if the unions would accept a wage freeze but were denied.

Warner said the expenditure priorities for 2011 will be public services, public safety, health & human services, law & justice, government services, economic development and quality of life.

The county commissioners will hold another public hearing regarding the 2011 preliminary budget on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m., at Yakima City Hall.

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