The rough budget times continue for Cowlitz County, as County Auditor Kris Swanson presents the preliminary 2014-2015 budget. In making her initial report at yesterday’s County Commission meeting, Swanson reports that the initial requests from department heads have the budget $2 million out of balance for 2014, and $1.3 million out in 2015. Swanson says that they had specific instructions to keep the “wish list” to a minimum, but she says that the projected expenses still exceed revenues. The requests will represent a “challenge” as the process moves ahead. Commission Chair Mike Karnofski says that it’s clear that some difficult decisions are ahead, looking at possible personnel reductions and cuts to services offered by county departments. This is just the first step in the process for setting the budget; later this month, a series of workshops involving each department will get under way. The first public hearing on the budget is currently scheduled for December 3rd.