Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council ponders increased dues for members
BREMERTON, Nov 28, 2012 (Kitsap Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Kitsap County, local cities, tribes, the Port of Bremerton and Kitsap Transit will be spared an increase in dues for their membership in the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council ... at least for 2013. But a dues increase could be in store for 2014 and beyond.
The agency, with a staff of five, provides a forum for members to make decisions on issues that affect the entire community, including transportation and growth management.
Members vote on allocation of federal transportation dollars, federal housing grants and the Community Development Block Grant Program, which supports community services. KRCC presents a legislative agenda representing countywide interests and administers a broadband grant program that ensures connectivity for emergency and government services throughout the county.
Dues from members provide half the agency's operating costs. The rest is covered by grants KRCC administers and other sources.
Dues were cut by more than 20 percent between 2008 and 2011, to a total of around $200,000, in light of members' budget constraints. Members are charged based on a formula that takes into consideration population and total assessed property value. Kitsap County's dues are the highest at $116,800.
KRCC has balanced its budget in recent years by using up a reserve fund that once stood at $50,000. Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown, vice president of the KRCC executive committee, said the council made that decision intentionally. KRCC doesn't rely on reserves as do cities and the county, which use reserves to maintain cash flow between twice yearly property tax payments.
At the same time, the agency has trimmed its expenses, and the 2013 budget will come in lower than the 2012 budget, which totals just less than $400,000.
The 2013 budget shortfall was $17,000. Executive Director Mary McClure will report to the council on Tuesday that she was able to close that gap.
"Recognizing the reserve was used, I went back and sharpened my pencil," McClure said. "I was able to tighten up so I think we'll do OK for this year."
Brown is confident the council will be able to adjust for a stable budget in future years, possibly through an increase in dues.
"It's not a lot of money," Brown said. "The costs are the costs, and we can only put it off so long."
KRCC's model of having a separate coordinating agency is not the norm, according to Brown. In Pierce County, for example, the county carries out coordination among jurisdictions that is required by the Growth Management Act. Brown says Kitsap's model provides a more "open, collaborative process."
"I like the way approach things," Brown said. "We really have a cost-effective model a lot of other jurisdictions wish they had in many ways. ... I think we get enormous value for our dues."
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