The proposed county budget for the 2022-23 biennium is another step closer to completion following a nearly five-hour Pierce County Council meeting that saw said body review 21 ordinances related to the budget and fees. Fifteen were approved and six continued to the council’s next meeting.
The nearly $3 billion budget largely mirrored Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier’s proposed biennium budget that he presented to the council in late September.
Though the council’s priorities largely align with those of Dammeier, there were some differences between the two budgets. For example, in adopting new rates for the Pierce County Ferry System, the council veered away from Dammeier’s initial 15.5 percent annual fare increase in favor of an increase more in line with the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area from February 2016 through April 2021.
This represents an overall rate increase of 8.9 percent in 2022 and 6.2 percent in 2023. It is the first ferry rate increase since 2016.
Budget-related ordinances approved by the council include park and school impact fees, parks and recreation service fees, development review, inspection and application/processing fees and the setting of lease rates and rental feels for Pierce County’s airports.
“There will be a few returning — and maybe a couple more next week — but we are most of the way through,” council Chair Derek Young said of the marathon meeting.
Councilmember Marty Campbell added, “A big thank you to staff for working on all these amendments.”
Items continued to the next meeting of the Pierce County Council included the six-year transportation program and the 14-year ferry program. The former identifies and outlines future road projects throughout the county, while the latter deals with long-range maintenance and capital improvements to the ferry system. The law requires both to be updated annually.
Other items to be carried over to the next council meeting include a proposed capital facilities plan that was amended to add funding to improve water quality via a retrofit to a stormwater outfall at Lake Tapps, ranking facility needs of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, increasing funds in support of the Key Peninsula and PenMet parks departments and making provisions for construction of the Buckley Forestland Preserve public access in 2022.
Pierce County’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funds, the federal COVID-19 relief package passed earlier this year by Congress, will be brought up as well.
The Pierce County Council was slated to adopt the 2022-23 budget at its Tuesday meeting.
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