Parks take a small hit in budget reduction


Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

The Mason County Parks and Trails budget took a small hit Tuesday as the Board of Mason County Commissioners sought to balance the 2009 budget.

In a 2-1 vote $40,000 was cut from the parks 2009 $634,000 budget. Commission Chair Tim Sheldon and Commissioner Ross Gallagher voted for the cut after reaching middle ground. Commissioner Lynda Ring Erickson came in from sick leave to vote "no" to the cuts in an effort to preserve the entire parks and trails budget.

"I don't think we should be doing this right now," Ring Erickson said.

Last week a motion was offered and seconded to cut as much as $83,500 from parks, but it seemingly failed in a 1-1 vote. According to state law the motion stays alive indefinitely when only two of three commissioners vote unless agreement is reached or the third commissioner returns to take action. Ring Erickson said she was under doctor's orders to stay home from work last week and returned home for more convalescing after her Tuesday vote.

"We're still looking for a considerable amount to balance the budget," Sheldon said. "It's prudent management to make small cuts."

This week Sheldon reminded other commissioners that cuts needed to be made now to shore up the 2009 budget. Last week commissioners were after $700,000 in reductions but achieved only a little more than $140,000 in cuts. An additional $200,000 reduction sought in the Department of Community Development that failed on a 1-1 vote last week will be revisited on September 1 under the same "division" ruling that covered the parks vote.

July sales-tax receipts destined for the 2009 budget remained near the average 15 percent, or $43,000, below the same month last year.

After voting "no" last week, Gallagher met Sheldon in the middle, saying he would vote for the $40,000 parks cut. Gallagher said he hoped private funds could replace the money lost through something like the Adopt a Park program.

"I'm hoping the community will step forward," Gallagher said.

With her vote against the cut, Ring Erickson announced that she would donate 10 percent of her salary "to keep parks open." She said she was inspired by Parks and Trails board member John Eaton's and the Rotary club's $1,000 donations to the parks budget last week.

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