StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous approval on Monday, November 17 to the County’s first Biennial (two-year) Budget. The adopted $9 billion plan revives the King County Sheriff’s Domestic Violence Unit and maintains King County’s AAA bond rating by preserving the County’s cash reserves and rainy day funds.
“I’m pleased by the progress in this budget. We’ve added $6 million for rural roads and three deputies in the unincorporated areas. These are both important as the Council is the only ‘local government’ for our 250,000 unincorporated residents,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. While this does not solve our road maintenance and repair issues, and does not restore the cuts that were made to public safety during the great depression, it is a step in the right direction.”
Reductions in transit service were also a concern going into the budget process, with the Council committed to reviewing both the levels of bus service and transit reserves during the development of the budget. The 2015-2016 Budget funds full maintenance of existing bus service, while keeping adequate reserves in transit. The September bus reductions were done by cutting the system’s lowest performing routes. Some of the areas most impacted by those cuts such as the Snoqualmie Valley, Mercer Island and the Burien area are being re-evaluated by Metro. The budget added $12 million for transit’s alternative services delivery program, which provides transit service other than just a full-size (large) bus on a fixed route. The budget also preserved 400,000 service hours that were scheduled to be cut next year.
“I am very encouraged by Metro’s innovative approach of right-sizing service in different areas of the county,” Lambert said. “This is an efficient use of tax dollars and provides better and more consistent service to residents in outlying and hard-to-reach areas. I know that the pilot project in the Snoqualmie Valley has been very well received by the residents. It’s important in this time of limited resources to think outside the box when providing needed services.”
The budget also includes funding for the Issaquah Senior Center and the Eastside Baby Corner, both of which are in Issaquah and serve the greater plateau area of the County.
“I’m pleased that we could include some funding for these very worthwhile organizations that serve our community and provide help to so many residents,” said Lambert. “The designated funds will be leveraged in ways that will provide additional services to those families and seniors served.”
As the “local” government for the 250,000 residents of the unincorporated areas of the County, the Council Budget also included additional funds for land use nuisance issues and noxious weed control.
“I’m pleased with the steps taken in this budget,” Lambert said. “We are stepping up to fulfill our role as the regional and unincorporated areas’ local government. The deputies added to the Sheriff’s Domestic Violence Unity will help protect vulnerable citizens and free up other deputies to be back on patrol. The budget is balanced and preserves our high credit rating which saves the taxpayers money.”