The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday passed a $1.662 billion operating budget for the upcoming 2024 fiscal year, following months of analysis and deliberation. The adopted budget contained 23 amendments to the executive’s proposed budget, according to a county council news release.
Council Chair Jared Mead thanked staff and the executive team who worked behind the scenes to create a transparent and collaborative budget process.
“I think it’s noteworthy that we can all work together on behalf of the taxpayers to create a budget that serves our communities,” he said. “This budget cycle, we prioritized public safety, economic development, housing affordability, mental health and substance abuse care, and early learning initiatives. I am proud of the county’s ability to come to a consensus and exercise fiduciary responsibility while addressing our community’s top and most pressing needs.”
The 2024 budget includes important investments in the efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis facing Snohomish County communities, the news release said.
“Specifically, we have invested funds to assess under-utilized space in the county jail for conversion into a secure withdrawal management and stabilization (SWMS) facility,” said Council Vice-Chair Nate Nehring. “This facility would provide a space for involuntary treatment to address the issue of fentanyl addiction. We need every tool in our toolbox to fight this crisis, and I am proud of the Council for making these important investments.”
This would be funded by the Chemical Dependency Mental Health Fund Balance and the allocation of Opioid Settlement dollars the county will receive in 2024.
Other highlights of the 2024 adopted budget include:
- The addition of a 0.5 FTE victim witness advocate to the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for general victim services.
- The addition of a 1.0 FTE for a 2-year project victim witness advocate and a 1.0 FTE for a 2-year project deputy prosecuting attorney for the prosecution of hate crimes.
- Additional funding to research early learning within Snohomish County to assess kindergarten readiness levels and determine the availability of early learning slots compared to the state and nationally.
- Ensured therapeutic courts staffing is funded through 2024.
- Funding for the printing of Spanish language voter pamphlets and ballots.
- Funding for public outreach, followed by a plan for Lord Hill Parking Lot improvements.
“This budget was a collaborative process by all the council members,” said Councilmember Sam Low. “I was glad to bring forward amendments that increase transparency in government. I appreciate the public testimony on the budget and the teamwork involved to incorporate changes into the final vote.”
“This budget cycle I focused on public safety improvements by supporting the expansion of our county’s treatment court system and provided funding to remove barriers for people to access the Electronic Home Monitoring program,” said Councilmember Megan Dunn. “I appreciated the efforts to find common ground on important issues with the executive’s office, other independently electeds, and fellow councilmembers.”
“Collaboration was the key to building this well-rounded budget,” said Councilmember Strom Peterson. “As a council, we listened to input from the public, employees, Executive Somers’ team, and to each other. We made smart investments to help all our communities. This is a budget, while not perfect, is something I am very proud to support.”