County begins budget meetings

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla County commissioners will begin deliberations this week on the 2014 budget in several meetings open to the public.

Commissioners said the public will hear and see the same information the elected officials and most department heads use to make decisions to balance the county budget.

The meetings will be held on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and on the morning of Oct. 17.

Although the budget discussions will be public, the meetings will not be hearings at which public comment and testimony will be taken.

As required by state law, the official public hearing on the budget is held on the first Monday in December, which this year will be at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 2.

Along with the current expense fund, the source of operating money for most of the offices and departments in the county, this year’s meetings will involve discussions of two other funds.

One involves the law and justice fund, which uses criminal justice tax revenue for related expenditures.

The second is for a new fund created for chemical dependency and mental health treatment programs and to operate therapeutic court programs.

According to the release, the preliminary 2014 budget for the current expense fund is $1.6 million over anticipated revenue for expenditure requests. The commissioners are required by law to prepare a balanced budget before the Dec. 2 public hearing.

An electronic copy of the preliminary draft budget, a 653-page document, can be found on the county website at www.co.walla-walla.wa.us. Only a minimum number of printed copies will be available at each meeting.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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