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Councilmembers vote against County Budget

Summary

Dunn and von Reichbauer cite concerns over public safety

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today adopted the 2011 budget on a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Pete von Reichbauer voting no. These Councilmembers cited the systematic dismantling of King County’s criminal justice system for their vote against the budget.

“The 300,000 residents of King County will now have to live with 28 fewer sheriff deputies than last year,” said Dunn, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “I cannot vote for a budget that does not first protect public safety before funding non-mandatory programs.”

“The people of South King County want more law enforcement not less,” said von Reichbauer. “Crime is a growing issue for my constituents and I want more officers on the street and more prosecutors in the courtroom.”

This summer, Councilmember Dunn with support from Councilmember von Reichbauer, offered a plan to fund criminal justice that was tax neutral in that the average taxpayer would have paid no new taxes. Instead of adopting this plan, the Council chose to put Proposition 1, a straight two-tenths of one percent sales tax, on the ballot with no offsets. Proposition 1 failed by more than 10 percentage points, leaving King County with a $60 million deficit.

“The taxpayers of this county are struggling and they are looking to the Council for solutions,” said Dunn. “I tried to offer some reasonable alternatives but my ideas were not taken seriously. Now we have a budget before us that makes people less safe.”

Councilmember Dunn was a member of the Budget Leadership Team but walked out after being told that no Sheriff’s deputies would be restored in the budget. The Budget Leadership Team cited the fact that the King County Police Officers Guild (KCPOG) refused to forego their cost of living increases to save jobs within that department as a reason for that decision.

“I am not going to defend the Sheriff’s union for not giving up their COLAs. But I am going to stand up for my constituents who must live under the lack of police protection,” said Dunn. “In my opinion, we must balance the need to send a message to labor with the right policy decisions on public safety. This budget does not represent my principles.”

Three amendments were offered by Dunn:

  • Taking $820,000 from the criminal justice reserve to restore six prosecutors, four to the violent crime unit and two to the economic crimes unit. The amendment was defeated by a 6-3 vote with Councilmembers Dunn, Hague and von Reichbauer voting in support of the amendment.
  • Cutting $3.27 million from the Public Health budget to restore 26 deputies to the Sheriff’s office, including 16 for property crimes investigation, two for storefronts in unincorporated King County and eight School Resource Officers. The amendment failed on a 5-4 vote with Councilmembers Dunn, Hague, Lambert and von Reichbauer voting in favor of the amendment.
  • Adding $100,000 of critical funding to the domestic violence and sexual assault programs. The amendment failed on a 7-2 vote with Councilmembers Dunn and von Reichbauer supporting the amendment.

“It was important to me to not just vote no. I wanted to once again offer some reasonable alternatives to save our criminal justice system,” said Dunn. “My alternatives were not supported by a majority of the Council but the perspective of the citizens of unincorporated King County and citizens who are concerned about public safety were heard.”

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov and type in “2010-0527”



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