2008 King County Budget
The Metropolitan King County Council on Nov. 19, 2007 unanimously adopted a $4.9 billion budget that responds to the priorities voiced by citizens to ensure public trust, enhance quality of life, and protect public health and safety. The budget stays within the property tax limits of Initiative 747, despite the recent invalidation of the measure by the state Supreme Court.
|Read the final 2008 King County Budget (PDF, 3 MB, large file), adopted Nov. 19. |
2008 Budget by section:
Budget Ordinance (PDF, 216KB)
Attachment A (PDF, 1 MB)
Attachment B (PDF, 390 KB)
Attachment C (PDF, 189 KB)
Attachment D (PDF, 56 KB)
Attachment E (PDF, 61 KB)
Attachment F (PDF, 604KB)
Attachment G (PDF, 68 KB)
Attachment H (PDF, 128 KB)
Attachment I (PDF, 140 KB)
The budget reduces the executive’s overall budget, proposed at just over $5 billion, by $40 million, and reduces the executive’s proposed general fund expenditures by $1.8 million.
“To the Executive’s credit, he sent us a fiscally responsible budget,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, chair of the Operating Budget Committee. “The Council worked to reprioritize parts of the proposed budget and exercise additional fiscal restraint. We delivered a budget that reduces the Executive’s overall proposed budget and reduces his proposed general fund expenditures while maintaining current levels of services, increasing general fund reserves and anticipating future and emergency needs. Further, the budget respects the property tax limits of Initiative 747.”
“As the regional government for King County, we keep the big picture in mind,” said Councilmember Jane Hague, chair of the Operating Budget Panel. “We see needs that affect everyone whether it’s direct or indirect. We know that sometimes one part of the county has to support another or we all suffer. We are one region and we need regional solutions.”
For development of the 2008 budget, the Council established a Citizen Budget Priorities Initiative, an interactive process to get the views of residents on how government should prioritize county services and spend their tax dollars. The high priority placed by participants on public health led directly to an initiative to secure funding for the North and Northshore Public Health Clinics through the end of 2008. You can read the final report [pdf, 1.8 MB] online.
Members also worked to make sure that the 2008 budget is fiscally prudent and maintains the financial policies that have earned the County the highest possible credit ratings.
“The King County budget is, at its heart, a policy document. The Council budget funds emergency animal shelter upgrades, and mandates a swift investigation to determine whether the county can provide the quality of shelter services the residents of King County expect,” said Councilmember Dow Constantine, chair of the Capital Budget Panel. “We have an absolute obligation to the animals in our shelter to provide humane care, medical treatment, and the best chance to be adopted into a loving home. Nothing less is acceptable.”
“I am pleased that this budget improves public safety, the primary responsibility of local government,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Vice-Chair of the Operating and Capital Budget Panels. “The funding for the Flood Control Zone District will allow us to be proactive in preventing our flooding problems, including eight federally declared flood disasters since 1990. Additional funding for the King County Sheriff’s Office aims to implement the critical recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel to improve oversight and training. We need to have adequate resources for maintaining deputy response times in the unincorporated areas of King County.”
Highlights of the 2008 King County Budget include:
Lower overall budget: Reduces the executive’s overall budget proposal by $40 million, and reduces the executive’s proposed general fund expenditures by $1.8 million.
Property taxes: Limits levy increases to 1 percent growth in the spirit of Initiative 747, despite the recent state Supreme Court ruling striking down the initiative as unconstitutional.
Rainy day reserve: Creates a permanent reserve with an initial transfer of $15 million that insulates essential county services from the effect of catastrophic loss or a severe downturn in the local economy.
Elections operations: Creates a new Elections Division as a stand-alone operation to allow the Elections Director to focus solely on management of important elections systems.
Vote-by-mail: Funds 12 regional voting centers to accommodate people with special needs and enable them to cast secret ballots.
Animal services: Funds the most critical upgrades to the county’s animal shelter operations and facility improvements for the provision of humane animal care, while the Council considers the business decision of whether to discontinue animal sheltering services.
Mental health and chemical dependency: Establishes revenue to fund expanded programs for treatment of citizens with mental illness and substance abuse issue.
Criminal justice: Ensures continued implementation of the Blue Ribbon Panel recommendations for the Sheriff’s Office, and increases staffing in District Court to address rising caseloads and improve court customer service.
Transportation: Creates a new Marine Division to begin contract work for the new King County Ferry District. Funds more than 160,000 new Metro bus service hours and eliminates advertising wraps over bus windows.
“This budget is a reminder of the responsibilities we have as a regional government,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The King County Council prioritized people, especially the most vulnerable members of our community. We took a holistic approach to their needs, whether by increasing transportation choices, expanding mental health services, or protecting our natural resources. The 2008 budget does this without neglecting our other regional programs and services.”
“Reforming animal care, funding new HIV prevention and testing efforts, improving our mental health system, and creating a more transparent and responsive elections division were all priorities of mine during the budget process,” said Council Vice-Chair Julia Patterson. “The Council has made significant headway on these important initiatives and others, all while maintaining a lean budget.”
“The Council took action to protect and enhance the services citizens value most,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “We included funds to ensure elections are accurate and convenient, sheriff’s deputies are professional and accountable, and the BNSF rail trail will soon be available to citizens. We’ve also put money away so services can continue if we encounter a rainy day.”
“The County Council worked together to trim the Executive’s proposed budget by $40 million while still responding to the priorities voiced by citizens earlier this year,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.
“On balance, this is a pretty good budget. We funded the basic services that our constituents expect from County government,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “In addition, we set the stage for a detailed study of the delivery of unincorporated services, we called for a report on our development permit fee structure and we funded Transparency in Taxation for the first time. I’m proud of this Council for moving those issues forward.”
Details of the 2008 King County Budget
The 2008 budget supports the “Priorities for People” adopted earlier this year following an extensive citizen engagement initiative:
I. Ensuring public trust
Rainy day reserve: Creates a permanent rainy day reserve that insulates essential county services from the effect of catastrophic loss or a severe downturn in the local economy. The budget transfers $15 million now in the sales tax reserve fund into the new rainy day reserve. It is the intent of the Council that the rainy day fund can only be tapped by a declaration of emergency by the Council.
Elections Oversight. Creates a new Elections Division as a stand-alone operation within the Department of Executive Services to allow the Elections Director to focus solely on management of important elections systems. Adds $814,000 for 12 regional voting centers located throughout the county to accommodate people with special needs and enable them to cast secret ballots. Adds 7 election workers to further enhance operations.
Animal Services Oversight. Provides $130,000 for the most critical facility upgrades to the county’s animal shelters and $150,000 for improvements to the provision of medical care, nutrition and socialization, while the Council considers the business decision of whether to discontinue the provision of animal sheltering services.
Citizen Engagement Initiative. Funds the second year of an initiative to engage citizens in developing countywide priorities for their county government, and report back to the public.
Law Enforcement Oversight. Continues funding for the independent civilian agency to be empowered with auditing authority and an option for voluntary mediation in the resolution of citizen complaints of misconduct involving deputies in the King County sheriff's office. Funds the most critical recommendations from the Sheriff’s Office Blue Ribbon Panel and adds $750,000 to fund creation and training costs for the new Sheriff’s Professional Standards Division created by the Council on Oct. 22.
Office of Economic and Financial Analysis. Implements a new office to provide reliable forecasts of major county revenues to aid in development of the annual budget.
Technology Savings and Oversight . Saves $2.1 million by eliminating information technology proposals that the Council finds to be unjustified at this time. Tightens fiscal oversight of several IT projects by requiring completion of key milestones before additional expenditures can be authorized. Reduces expenditures for the institutional fiber-optic cable network (I-Net) by $474,000 to align with anticipated revenues, and requires a long-term plan for I-Net that evaluates alternatives to its continued operation.
II. Enhancing Quality of Life
Metro Transit. Adds 157,592 service hours of bus service over the biennium’s base level from 2007, and identifies administrative efficiencies that provide funds for an additional 6,900 service hours each year. Maintains prohibition of advertising wraps that cover any portion of the windows of Metro buses.
County Mobility . Reduces the Roads Capital Improvement Program by more than $74 million over six years, pending completion of an operational master plan for roads that targets the most cost-effective investments in the highest priority projects and prepares the Road Services Division for a future in which its sole direct responsibility will be roads in the unincorporated rural areas. Reduces nearly $4 million from a program to improve roads maintenance facility by funding only immediate and necessary improvements to fire safety and leaking roofs, pending completion of the operational master plan.
Rural Services Initiative. Directs development of a comprehensive plan that establishes a clear vision for the delivery of services in the rural and unincorporated areas, improvement of customer service, and strengthening of knowledge among county staff regarding the rural area and the rural way of life.
Regional Trails and Open Space. Implements the voter-approved parks expansion levy to provide funding to acquire land and develop missing links to regional trails, and for cities to expand their trails and open space.
Noxious Weeds. Reduces the proposed per-acre fee to lessen the impact on the agricultural community in King County, but otherwise fully funds the Noxious Weed Control program to provide state-mandated noxious weed oversight.
III. Protecting Public Health and Safety
Mental Health and Chemical Dependency. After hearing from hundreds of citizens at public hearings over the past year, and in response to priorities cited by participants in the citizen engagement initiative, the Council joined with seven other counties across the state to exercise the authority granted by the Legislature to enact a one-tenth of one cent sales tax to fund new and expanded mental health, chemical dependency and therapeutic court programs. These new programs include providing mental health and chemical dependency treatment for those who are unable to currently receive it, stabilization services, and linkages to housing and employment. The programs and services are designed to work together to keep the mentally ill and chemically dependent out of costly jail or emergency rooms. The Council is requiring a three-phase oversight, implementation and evaluation plan for the programs supported with the new revenue.
Public Health. Fully funds all public health centers in King County, in accordance with one of the top priorities cited by participants in the citizen engagement initiative, and establishes accountability through the King County Board of Health for continued work with the community to assure access to high quality health care. Creates a $3 million reserve in the general fund to ensure the county is able to respond to public health emergencies and can continue implementation of the Public Health Operational Master Plan, adopted by the council in 2007 to ensure the continued delivery of essential public health services. Adds $150,000, to be matched by $150,000 from the City of Seattle, for efforts to reduce the number of new HIV infections in King County as recommended by the Board of Health.
Flood Disaster Prevention. The recently-created King County Flood Control Zone District has adopted a countywide flood protection program, including nearly $335 million in capital projects to be completed over the course of ten years. With its expertise in flood control, King County will enter into a contract with the Flood District to implement the District’s work program.
Public Safety. Creates a special $900,000 reserve for potential restoration of current levels of police protection for the county’s unincorporated areas. Adds $408,000 and three positions to re-establish a gang suppression unit in the Sheriff’s Office.
Transit Security. Adds $2.4 million for 19 officers over the next two years to expand overnight “graveyard shift” coverage and to increase police presence on buses and at passenger facilities in south King County and in downtown Seattle, including the bus tunnel.
Adult Detention. Implements audit recommendations to fund 32 additional full-time corrections officers to reduce the need for mandatory overtime that jeopardizes the safety of officers and inmates. Pursues efficiencies in the booking of inmates countywide. Declares the Council’s intent that the County be part of planning for any new jail capacity.
District and Superior Courts. Adds $228,000 and 4 staff to address rising caseloads in King County District Court and improve court customer service. Reserves a total of $358,000 for District Court and Superior Court to meet an unfunded state mandate to implement a new court records management system that improves citizen use of the courts and overall system efficiency.