Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier presented his proposed 2020 – 2021 biennial budget to the County Council Tuesday afternoon.
The 2020-2021 biennial proposed budget includes and extends many of the successful initiatives launched since January 2017. Those successes include the County’s renewed investment in behavioral health resources. In addition to an expansion of the Mobile Community Intervention Response Team, the new Crisis Recovery Center located in the Parkland/Spanaway area will be under construction soon, with completion expected in 2020.
As in previous years, public safety remains a top priority. The proposed budget invests in technology that will allow for Sheriff Department’s deputies to spend more hours “on the beat” and in the community.
An outreach campaign to connect local victims of human trafficking to sources of support and help is included in the 2020 -2021 budget.
The biennial budget also increases the budget by nearly $1 million to clean up nuisance properties. Executive Dammeier noted that homeless encampments endanger many people, including the neighbors who live near them, the staff that cleans them up, and the people who live in them.
Dammeier has been working with mayors and communities across Pierce County on a regional approach to creating more affordable housing. The effort, led in collaboration with City of Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and Councilmember Connie Ladenburg, is laying the foundation for action in 2020. It will be funded, in part, by existing tax proceeds redirected to local jurisdictions by the state of Washington to accelerate the creation of affordable housing.
Pierce County is also streamlining the permitting code to make it faster and easier to develop and build affordable housing units.
The Executive stressed the opportunities that have been created as a result of prudent financial management. “We are focused on getting things done for the people of Pierce County, and the foundation of this work – sound financial management and smart business practices – makes this possible.
To bring greater focus and alignment of County environmental goals, the proposed budget includes the creation of a manager position that would oversee the update of the County’s 2020 sustainability goals, and the implementation of the plan going forward. This new position augments the Executive’s proposal to direct nearly $2 million to improve water quality, improve salmon passage and mitigate flood control issues.
In his presentation to the Council, Dammeier discussed the focus he places on accountability and transparency to the residents of the County. In addition to highlighting the enhancements to Open Pierce County – the comprehensive online series of dashboards that measure and report the County’s operations – he stated the budget, as proposed, includes funds to restructure and remake the Medical Examiner’s Office to restore confidence and bring greater stability to that team.
The budget proposed for 2020 – 2021 aligns with the County’s strategies to create an entrepreneurial climate, foster vibrant communities and operate an effective and efficient government.
The Council now begins the 100-day period to review and amend the budget and is expected to finalize the final version of the biennial budget by late November.