Commissioners Dig Into ‘Deliverables,’ Ballot Boxes & Bucks

Deliverables’ related to funding for Greater Grays Harbor Inc.and ‘community ballot boxes’ were among the topics on the table at today’s county commission meetings.

Commissioner Wes Cormier recently proposed a new level of accountability tied to county support for GGHI. Cormier, a long-time fiscal falcon, set a number of specific benchmarks or ‘deliverables‘ GGHI is expected to meet in relation to receiving a record $88K.

This morning Commissioner Vickie Raines cited a draft of the document detailing the agreement approved last week, suggesting it be put back on the agenda to “make sure the deliverables were added on to the draft.” She said she’s aware that Cormier has had conversations with Dru Garson of GGHI about trancending Department of Commerce reporting presently in place.

Cormier asked Raines what she disliked about the deliverables. Raines replied she just wants to review them. Commissioner Randy Ross said he wanted to “bring Dru (Garson) back and talk more” about deliverables, possibly in a workshop.

Raines questioned Cormier’s requirement that GGHI make a certain number of ‘cold calls’ per month. Citing her long experience in the insurance industry she said, “I don’t think cold calls work.”

Cormier proposed that county support for GGHI be conditioned upon/tied to specific deliverables, including a minimum of 30 cold calls to regional businesses in primary and secondary industries. Also at least 22 cold calls to similar out of state businesses within the reporting time frame. GGHI is expected to present a ‘progress report’ by June 30, 2017. A final report is to be presented to the commission at the end of the year.

Cormier countered Raines’ observation with information from Forbes to the contrary. “It’s one cold call a week,” he noted. Cormier also pointed out that for $88K a year, the county could hire someone to do same or similar.

Apparently accountability with taxpayer moola may not be sitting too well with Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson. Cormier said, “The mayor (Larson) has gotten a little personal with me in some of his comments” on the topic.

At the afternoon media Q and A session, Doug McDowell of KBBK asked the commishes to weigh in on Larson’s comments/letter to the editor. Raines and Ross declined comment. Cormier said, “I find it interesting. I don’t know if I’m going to respond. I haven’t decided.” 

Cormier noted that Larson wasn’t part of the conversation between GGHI and the county. He reiterated, “I do not want the county to provide funds for the Gateway Center” related to tourism.

Connect those dots.

Look for a revisit on ‘deliverables,’ et. al., possibly at a commission workshop.

Community Ballot Boxes?

Moving on, Raines noted conversations she had with state legislators last week, including Rep, Brian Blake (D-19) and State Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-24). Possible placement of voter ballot boxes in every community statewide came up, as did the property tax lift, indigent defense support, and the Public Records Act.

Back to the ballot boxes. Van De Wege brought this up.  For the low, low bargain basement price of roughly $7,500 – $10,000. Each. The senator asked Raines if she’d support the idea. She said yes, “as long as the state pays for it.” She also noted that the county could use that kind of money to hire a corrections officer instead.

New Hire?

Moving on again, Budget Director Brenda Sherman presented an update. See below. This engendered a discussion about a new position within Management Services for a Public Records Officer. Questions raised included how much will it cost? and who’s going to pay for it, possibly  in a billable hours by department – type format.

The salary range for this new position is estimated at $4,700 – $5,600/month, possibly starting in June. 

Back on the budget, Sherman noted that “trends show that our costs continue to outpace our revenue. We’re going to have to come up with some method of cost control.”

Raines recalled that Cormier “said last summer we may not be able to sustain staff levels.” Acknowledging the possibility of staff reductions, she said the situation “was brought to the attention of the unions, so they are aware.”

This & That

  • If you figure out how discussions about possible staff reductions square with discussions about hiring new staff – a public records officer – kindly holler.
  • Recent training on using the new county web site saw “good staff turnout.” Public turnout for same? Not so much. Clerk of the Board Jenna Asbury noted that the latter was attended by four people, all associated with local Neighborhood Watch programs.
  • Regarding possible ‘community ballot boxes’: What constitutes a ‘community’? Who decides? How? Who pays? For rural communities, wouldn’t footing the bill for ballot postage be cheaper than paying for ballot boxes? (Hi, Kevin.)
  • GHC 2016 Assessed Value for Taxes Payable in 2017:
  • Brief historical overview of general fund revenue vs. expenditures, 2013-2017:
  • Miscellaneous Dedicated Funds Summary as of March 31, 2017:

    Are we having fun yet?

    Photo: Budget Director (back to camera) discusses numbers and dollars with Commissioners Randy Ross, Wes Cormier, and Vickie Raines.