“Every year, the budget town halls are an important way for citizens to share what is important to them about living in King County and this year was no exception”
StoryOver that last two weeks, the Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee has heard from people throughout King County on their budget priorities at three meetings on the proposed 2017-2018 King County Biennial Budget. From Seattle to Redmond to Kent, testimony was presented to the Budget Committee, which all 9 members of the County Council serve on during budget deliberations.
“Every year, the budget town halls are an important way for citizens to share what is important to them about living in King County and this year was no exception,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, Chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “I want to thank everyone who testified and encourage anyone to continue to offer comments as the Council continues its deliberations.”
“Public safety is a basic and vital priority of government. I was so glad to hear citizens at the hearings reinforce the need to make preserving community safety one of the county’s top priorities,” said Committee Vice Chair Kathy Lambert. “Funding public safety continues to be a challenge due to the 1 percent cap on property taxes, which because of inflation over the last 8 years has been more than 1 percent and has squeezed the general fund portion of the budget. Almost 75 percent of the general fund goes to pay for justice and public safety. There are so many needs also such as roads.”
There were a variety of priorities presented at these meetings; many spoke out about programs that support keeping young people out of the criminal justice system. Others urged the County to find the funding needed to continue operating the County Sheriff’s Marine and Air Units. People spoke out about mental health programs, and alternatives to possible fee increase on septic system inspections. The Mayor of Kent and the Chief of the Kent Police Department spoke for South King County cities that would need to bring arrested suspects to Seattle if the South County booking facility is closed, which is part of the proposed budget.
“King County’s budget choices have very real impacts on the lives and livelihoods of residents from all of our communities, made all the more clear by the compelling public testimony offered over the past two weeks,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “As a member of the Council’s Budget Leadership Team, my top priority in this budget is to increase shelter and affordable housing to make a serious dent in our region’s homelessness crisis.”
“I appreciate all the people who took the time to come to one of our meetings,” said Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “These hearings provide an important opportunity for councilmembers to hear directly from the people we represent about their priorities for the County. Your comments will be very valuable as we start to make final decisions about the budget.”
The Budget Committee will consider the testimony as it continues its deliberations on the $11.3 Billion proposal, which is expected to be adopted in November.
The end of the night meetings does not mean the end of people being able to comment on the budget. Written comments can be left on the Council’s Budget web page.
The Council will vote to adopt the 2017-2018 King County Budget in mid-November. There will be a public hearing on the proposal prior to the vote.