Yakima County to give thousands to departments & bonuses for employees

Yakima County to give thousands to departments & bonuses for employees
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- For the first time in recent history, Yakima County has extra money to dole out to departments. Outperformed revenues like increased sales revenue, unspent money and election services revenue leave the city with about $1.5 million dollars.

About $750,000 of that is unanticipated sales revenue in 2012. About $190,000 more is anticipated in sales tax for 2013.

The county also brought in about $216,000 more than expected in 2012 election services revenue. An example of an election service is when the county charges other communities for running their elections.

$865,000 was left on the table from the 2012 budget.

At a commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, Yakima County commissioners and County Budget Director Craig Warner discussed where the total $1.5 million will go.

It was decided that all county departments will be given a 1% contingency allocation. That's a one time total cost of $440,000.

"We want to get it back to departments," said County Commissioner Rand Elliot. "They've taken some really serious hits in the last five years, so we're trying to give back a little of what they've given up."

After the $1.6 million budget cut in 2011, most departments were running with a $0 contingency fund. Contingency money is important for unexpected costs at the end of the year. The maximum amount of contingency is 5% of the department's budget.

Additional money will be given to the Law and Justice Department. That includes the courts and public safety divisions. Their contingency budgets will be bumped up to 5%, the maximum. That's a total of $683,000.

In addition to increasing contingency funds, $250,000 of the extra money will go towards a one time bonus for county employees. The commissioners say this is a way to honor the promises made to employees who moved to a new compensation package last year. The bonus would be added to the December 10th payroll check.

"We're doing it in terms of a bonus because we're not absolutely sure that things are going to continue to improve," said Elliot.

Elliot says departments would have the option to hire additional employees. However, Yakima County's finance director warns using one-time contingency money to add jobs could cause more problems in the long run with more people on the payroll.