County departments face budget cuts

By Chelsea Yarnell

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Several county funded departments found themselves with proposed budget cuts for the 2016-17 fiscal year at a Budget Hearing before the County Commissioners on May 11.

In addition to no increase in pay for elected officials, the Economic Development Council, Housing Task Force and Tillamook County Pioneer Museum all faced cuts in order to hit the projected $22 million County budget.

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Facing a 32 percent cut for EDC, Small Business Development Center Director Mike Cohen lobbied the Commissioners and Budget Committee members for more funds.

“It’s gong to be impossible for EDC to…complete its work plan,” Cohen said. “[We] can’t accomplish it without reasonable funding.

“We’re not talking about salary increases,” Cohen continued. “We’re talking about a devastating blow being given to us.”

“If we restore this,” Commissioner Josi replied, “where do we make the cuts? Who’s department do we gauge?”

President of the Tillamook County Fair Board Camy VonSeggern also came forward to express her concern of cutting $15,000 from the Fair’s budget.

“We’ve been very frugal with our budget,” VonSeggern said. “A lot of volunteer hours, a lot of volunteer resources. It gets harder and harder to get people to work longer hours for no pay.”

Representing the Housing Task Force, Executive Director of CARE Erin Skaar reasoned that if the County doesn’t support finding a housing solution, others might not either.

“It feels to me the County should have stepped up to the plate on this,” Skaar said. “If the County can’t support something that the business community does, outside grants [see] something is wrong with out priorities.”

The Tillamook County Pioneer Museum’s budget faced a $20,000 cut, but according to Commissioner Bill Baertlein, “The Budget Committee decided that we could use $20,000 of Transient Lodging Tax money to fund the Museum.”

Baertlien also said that $25,000 in additional funding from Video Lottery was discovered and the Budget Committee agreed to allocate $20,000 of it to EDC and $5,000 to the Housing Task Force.

The County Commissioners will accept a finalized budget on June 22.

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