Budget Committee hears from 150 in four meetings throughout region
StorySpeakers who made their way to the four special night meetings held by the Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee told committee members about a number of issues they want to see addressed in the proposed 2015-2016 King County Budget. Many people spoke about funding for public defense and the need to keep county-operated public health clinics open, but a wide variety of issues were raised at the meetings.
The committee held the last of its four special night meetings to take public comment on the Executive-Proposed 2015-2016 King County Budget Oct. 29 at the King County Courthouse. The previous meetings were held in rural Fall City, Bellevue City Hall and the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. A total of 150 speakers testified at the four meetings.
“I want to thank everyone who came out and had their voice heard. Public testimony is a key part of our part of our deliberations, and we take what we heard very seriously,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, Chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.
“I look forward to the budget hearings as I enjoy hearing from the residents of King County. I’m always proud of my constituents for turning out to talk about the importance of local government services in the county’s unincorporated areas,” said Committee Vice Chair Kathy Lambert. “It’s so important for us to all discuss what the needs are and how many can be met with the revenues we have. We hear from so many groups and areas and subject matters. Very interesting discussions!”
“With so many compelling priorities, it is important to listen to the public,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “Thanks to the many who attended our public hearings. There is still time to testify online or attend the Council's public hearing on November 10.”
The priorities varied by location; from encouraging economic development in Fall City, to speakers in Bellevue asking for continued funds for programs that assist survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. In Kent, there was testimony asking that the committee maintain support for programs that aid renters facing eviction due to disputes with their landlords. Advocates for human service groups came to the Courthouse to speak about about the lifeline these agencies provide to youth and the homeless thanks to county funding.
But many of those testifying at all four meetings were focused on protecting services that aid individuals within the criminal justice system and residents of Southeast King County who are facing the loss of their public health clinic. Those speaking in support of the Auburn Public Health Clinic included representatives who stressed the importance of the services the center provides to the region’s growing Latino community and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, who was flanked by members of the Auburn City Council.
Along with the public defenders, there were young people who have received assistance from programs that help youth within the juvenile justice system. They spoke about the need for funding programs that not only help people when they enter the criminal justice system, but also provides opportunities that prevent them from becoming part of the system in the first place.
The end of the night meetings does not mean that people cannot continue to comment on the budget deliberations. Written comments can be left of the Council’s Budget web page or through Facebook and Twitter (#KCBudget).