King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert
A brief guide to the King County budget
The King County budget is composed of two types of funds: dedicated funds and the General Fund. Dedicated funds are the largest portion at about 85% of the total budget. By law, these funds are restricted to specific purposes, such as transit, sewage treatment, and voter-approved programs.
The discretionary portion of the county budget is the General Fund, which is about 15% of the total budget. These funds pay for critical day-to-day services not supported by other revenues. About three quarters of the General Fund (73%) pays for criminal justice and public safety, as mandated by the state. The remainder must fund other services, such as Elections and human services (see pie chart).
The General Fund is supported mostly by property tax and sales tax. By law, the County collects property tax on behalf of all taxing districts within the county. However, the County receives just 19 cents of every property tax dollar, with the rest going to other agencies (see bar graph). Similarly, King County receives less than one cent of the sales tax per dollar collected in most of the county.
Since Washington State enacted the 1% cap on property tax increases in 2002, counties across the state have faced a structural gap. With inflation at approximately 2% over these years, plus increases in the cost of maintaining the same level of services, the County has continued to face deficits in the budget. The deficit in the General Fund for the 2017-18 biennium is currently projected by the County Executive’s office at $40 million.
To learn more about the County budget and the Council’s budget review process for this biennium (2017 and 2018), please visit: www.kingcounty.gov/council/budget.
Bridges and Roads Task Force
Last fall King County Executive Dow Constantine and I convened a Bridges and Roads Task Force. It was charged with recommending sustainable solutions for funding bridges and roads in unincorporated King County. As many of you know, I’ve been a strong proponent of finding workable solutions as we cannot let our bridges and roads fall into disrepair! The 1994 funding formula no longer works and it’s time for it to be reevaluated! The terrific group of people on the Task Force came up 152 recommendations in their final report. You can access all the information including the final report and the list of recommendations here: http://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/roads/roads-task-force.aspx
Here’s more information that explains the problem in detail and gives more background:
One Night Count
In January I participated in the One Night Count. (It's the first time I've walked on a trail in Redmond in the dark at 2 am; it was very peaceful!) This is an annual effort to count the homeless in our region. The day after the count, I was interviewed on KIRO radio and shared my 5 ideas for ending homelessness.
Boost Your Brainpower
I’m a strong proponent of exercising the brain as it’s a great way to stay sharp and avoid disease. I loved this article – it is chock full of very common sense ways to exercise our brains every day. Here’s to more conversation until we’re all over 100!
King County Noise CodeEffective July 2, unincorporated King County residents have a new, improved noise code. If you’re experiencing loud and raucous neighborhood noise, you should call the King County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 206-296-3311. For construction noise, call the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) at 206-296-6680. For unreasonable animal noise, call the Pet Information Line at 206-296-PETS (7387). Learn more, read the King County Noise Code Fact Sheet (pdf, 303KB).
County Health Rankings
Check out this website that compares the health of King County’s residents to other counties around the state and nation.
There are two types of rankings: “Health outcomes” are a measure of length and quality of life. “Health factors” are a measure of health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.
I thought this was very informative. It’s also a reminder that there is always room for improvement regarding our health.