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Clash of the Washington County Commissioners

2010 January 1

I saw this article and thought it would be a good thing to share with everyone. Most of our focus is usually state and nationwide, but we need to focus on our own county as well!

Washington County Commisioners clash over late spending-cut proposal

Pulkrabek proposes $834,000 in cuts

by Mark Nicklawske
Regional Editor
Published: St.Croix Valley Press Publications
Thursday, December 10, 2009 2:20 PM CST
STILLWATER — A list of dramatic spending cuts proposed just two weeks before final budget approvals caused Washington County Commissioners to butt heads during a contentious workshop meeting last week.

District 2 Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek proposed slashing $843,000 from the 2010 Washington County budget during the Dec. 1 meeting. The proposal amounted to almost a 10 percent cut in the county property tax levy, currently set at $85.9 million.

The eight-point Pulkrabek plan found almost no board support and led to several heated exchanges with District 3 Commissioner Gary Kriesel.

Included on the list, Pulkrabek called for the county to end its financial support of the Historic Courthouse, the Workforce Center and the Meals on Wheels program. He recommended the county bill more for assessment services and multiple chemical dependency treatments.

“This is grossly unfair,” said Kriesel. “You’re doing a disservice to the department heads who are responsible for this budget.”

Kriesel criticized Pulkrabek for presenting the plan late in the budget process and accused him of missing four of nine budget workshop hearings earlier in the year.


–Pulkrabek said he proposed the plan to keep county spending down.

“I’m not going to support a budget that’s $1 more than last year,” he said.

The county levy is 1 percent higher than the 2009 levy. But a plan to include principal and interest payments on new bonding for a voter-approved Land and Water Legacy program could push the levy higher.

Pulkrabek accused Kriesel of “rubber-stamping” staff recommendations and said the board lacked the political will to proceed with the cuts.

District 5 Commissioner Lisa Weik said the Pulkrabek plan was arbitrary and last-minute. She said she would have liked to see the plan earlier in the process.Board Chair Myra Peterson agreed.

“That’s why we have a process,” she said. “You need to bring this to the table during the process.”

Pulkrabek said county staff should have enough time to deal with the cuts. He said the county will have one week to deal with citizen input following a Dec. 8 public hearing.

The board took no action on any of the Pulkrabek proposals.

Mark Nicklawske can be reached at news@presspub or 651-407-1231.


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