Commissioners to hold public hearing on budget

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla County commissioners will hold a public hearing Monday on the county’s 2013 budget.

Commissioners will also take comments on adoption of the 2013 property tax levies. Action on both items may follow.

The hearings will be at the start of Monday’s meeting, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the county Public Health and Legislative Building, 314 W. Main St., in Walla Walla.

Commissioners, elected officials and department heads have been wrestling with how to close a large gap between requested increases in budgeted expenditures and projected revenue. The debate mainly concerns the current expense fund, which pays for much of the day-to-day operations of the county.

At a workshop last week, Commissioner Greg Tompkins said officials had been able to close the gap to about $1 million. But a major issue hanging over the budget discussion is what will be the outcome of contract negotiations now ongoing with unions representing the sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers and courthouse employees.

Commissioners have said those contracts will not be finalized until next year and if they require increased costs for pay and benefits, it will seriously affect any budget solution worked out by the end of this year.

Commissioners will also consider resolutions to set the 2013 levies for road maintenance and emergency medical services among other matters.

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