Sunday, January 23, 2022

Grant County government accomplishing good things

by Cindy Carter Grant County Commissioner
| September 20, 2018 3:00 AM

I have been a lifelong resident of Royal City living on our family farm with my husband Rick of 32 years. I have enjoyed the country life and raising our three children on the farm.

The Commissioners approve an annual budget in excess of $120 million. Being fiscally responsible and streamlining government activities is of great importance as new regulations and many unfunded mandates are getting passed down to the county level. In January, we transferred our detained youth that was costing $180,000 annually from our Ephrata Juvenile Facility to Martin Hall, an eight-county juvenile detention center in Medical Lake, netting huge savings to our county. We also contracted out all of our janitorial services, with even more savings. Moving forward, I will continue to find ways to decrease our spending while maintaining government services.

We continue to fund the Sheriff’s Office at a higher percentage increase than most other offices; funding was not cut nor reduced in their office. Three additional officers with vehicles will be added.

The County Commissioners consolidated the Building and Planning departments. A goal is to bring Environmental Health (from the Health District) into this department for a one-stop permitting process and to also implement electronic plans submittals. Residential permits are getting issued within two to three weeks. We developed a broad-based community volunteer group forming the UDC (Unified Development Code) committee to recommend changes to the UDC to streamline land use permitting. The Shoreline Master Program was updated in 2014; we took a leadership role in establishing appropriate buffers for the Columbia Plateau Region, rather than applying larger buffers found elsewhere. The 2018 Comprehensive Plan Update required by the state was completed; we reduced the overall size of the Comp Plan by roughly half, eliminating insignificant information not needed in the plan. Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) was completed. This program protects the viability of agricultural activities where critical areas are present, while maintaining the function and value of those critical areas; no longer are critical areas protected by regulatory measure, but by voluntary actions from farmers. We continue to maintain an open invitation to address code deficiencies.

I’m passionate about tackling the tough subjects of behavioral health, domestic violence, substance abuse and suicide prevention head-on. We are merging physical health, behavioral health and substance use disorder to provide complete wraparound care to residents. Grant Integrated Services will be adding a residential stabilization facility that will be available to our residents soon. This will be the first residential treatment facility in Grant County. I continue to work diligently on starting a Suicide Prevention Coalition with other partners to stop this heartbreaking tragedy.

We have some of the best and most dependable county roads in the state and I want to continue to help keep those roads safe for those traveling. County infrastructure is vital with an emphasis to maintain the 1,500 miles of paved roads and improve the 1,000 miles of gravel roads. During my tenure, various safety features such as chevrons, rumble strips, and flashing stop signs have been added to our road system to aid in the safety of distracted drivers. My main goal is to get everyone home safely.

The County partnered with MLIRD and contributed $618,669 to fund the Sand Dune Bridge while Senator Warnick secured funds to reconstruct the dam underneath the new bridge when a mysterious sinkhole appeared, stopping all traffic across the previous bridge.

The MLIRD charge was not added to the tax statement this year because the information submitted to the county from MLIRD was incorrect with inaccurate 2017 rates. There is pending litigation awaiting a Superior Court judge’s decision on whether the MLIRD should be doing an assessment (flat rate for every parcel) or an ad valoram tax (percentage based on value of property and buildings which requires an annual vote of the taxpayers). While awaiting a judicial ruling, the Treasurer sent out the MLIRD statements as part of an arbitration agreement.

Because of Registered Warrants, four hospital districts (Grand Coulee Medical, Quincy Valley Hospital, McKay Memorial, and Mattawa Health) have heavily relied on this financial support for the continuance of providing much needed medical care and treatment in their local communities.

To make a difference in your community, you have to care.

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