Office of Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council, District 6 press release.
I have received a lot of feedback around the proposed 2022-2023 budget, and I want to clear a couple things up about the process.
First, at this point all documented legislation, fees and ideas have come from the Executive. What is before Council is just a proposal. It is now up to Council to conduct its in-depth review of the proposal, including speaking with department directors. From these conversations and our review of the proposal, Council will then shape a budget that it feels best balances a multitude of factors, including fulfilling mandated functions of the county and its policies, providing much-needed services to the community, and addressing Council’s priorities.
One example that I know has the attention of residents in my district is a proposed ferry fare rate increase.
Council’s Economic and Infrastructure Development Committee recently heard the proposed ferry fare increase legislation, ordinance 2021-102. Here the ordinance as proposed was explained, committee members asked questions, and the public had a chance to weigh in. You can watch that section of the meeting below.
The same day at a Council Study Session the Executive provided his reasoning for his proposed ferry rate increase of 15.5% every year for eight years). I know from conversations with those in my district that these proposed increases would negatively impact those who live on Anderson and Ketron islands, degrading their quality of life and in some cases forcing people to move off the islands.
I am aware of these concerns and I am working with my colleagues on a counter proposal.
Another example in the proposed budget that caught my eye is setting aside $26 million for land acquisition. Initially, it was a line item in the budget document. But Council wants to know more about what the plan is for this money and the land. We will hear the details in a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting Friday when the director of Human Services shares the budget details for this department.
I am taking in the details, asking questions of staff, reading through comments from community members and looking at the historical uses of funds. If you have thoughts, concerns or ideas please reach out.