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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Creating a go-to services agency for the 250,000 people who live in unincorporated King County

Summary

The new King County Department of Local Services will begin serving the nearly 250,000 residents of unincorporated King County starting Jan. 1 after the King County Council unanimously approved the proposal by Executive Dow Constantine.

Story

The King County Council unanimously approved Executive Dow Constantine's proposal to establish a new Department of Local Services to improve the coordination and delivery of services in unincorporated areas of the county.

The new department will consist of a Permitting Division for development permit reviews, code enforcement, and subarea planning, a Road Services Division with responsibility for 1,500 miles of County roads and 182 bridges, and the Community Services Area program.

“Our new department will help us deliver the highest level of customer service to the nearly quarter-million people who live in unincorporated King County, which would be the second-largest city in our state,” said Executive Constantine. “We are creating a go-to agency for the people who live in rural and urban unincorporated areas for direct services that improve the quality of life in our region.”

The ordinance approved today establishes the new Department of Local Services effective Jan. 1, 2019, the same date when King County Metro becomes its own standalone department. Executive Constantine expects to appoint the first director of Local Services in October following a competitive recruitment process.

“Our staff members have met with community councils and associations throughout unincorporated King County, and heard from residents at ten recent community town halls,” said Harold Taniguchi, Director of the King County Department of Transportation, who has been leading the transition to the new agency. “Thanks to their insights, the new department will be ready to hit the ground running in January.” 

“I’m excited for the new Department of Local Services and eager for the opportunity we have to create the best-run local government,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, whose district serves a wide area of urban and rural northeast King County, said. “For the first time, unincorporated residents will have a director in the Executive’s cabinet dedicated to addressing their ongoing and emergent needs while delivering the high-quality services they deserve.”

“As a former city mayor, I understand the importance and complexity of providing local government services, such as roads, surface water management, and police,” said Councilmember Claudia Balducci, one of the co-sponsors to the ordinance. “As a County Councilmember I appreciate the challenges of providing local services to our far-flung unincorporated area.  The creation of a new Department of Local Services provides us the opportunity to be more coordinated and more responsive to the residents for whom King County is the only local government.”

“From White Center to Vashon Island to the foothills of the Cascades, our unincorporated areas have unique and equally important needs,” King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “Our residents there deserve flexible and proactive service from their local government, making the creation of this department an exciting step forward for the County.”

Executive Constantine also thanked Senior Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett for leading a Local Services Initiative that studied ways to improve how the county delivers direct and contracted services in unincorporated areas, including road and bridge services, public safety, clean water, and increased access to opportunities.

The Department of Local Services will be funded by existing revenues, and will be included in the 2019-2020 biennial proposed budget that the Executive will send to the Council on Sept. 24. The council is scheduled to adopt a King County budget by Thanksgiving.


Relevant links


Quotes

Our new department will help us deliver the highest level of customer service to the nearly quarter-million people who live in unincorporated King County, which would be the second-largest city in our state. We are creating a go-to agency for the people who live in rural and urban unincorporated areas for direct services that improve the quality of life in our region.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

I am excited for the new Department of Local Services and eager for the opportunity we have to create the best run local government. For the first time, unincorporated residents will have a director in the Executive’s cabinet dedicated to addressing their ongoing and emergent needs while delivering the high quality services they deserve..

Kathy Lambert, King County Council

As a former city mayor, I understand the importance and complexity of providing local government services, such as roads, surface water management, and police. As a County Councilmember I appreciate the challenges of providing local services to our far-flung unincorporated area. The creation of a new Department of Local Services provides us the opportunity to be more coordinated and more responsive to the residents for whom King Count is the only local government.

Claudia Balducci, King County Council

From White Center to Vashon Island to the foothills of the Cascades, our unincorporated areas have unique and equally important needs. Our residents there deserve flexible and proactive service from their local government, making the creation of this department an exciting step forward for the County.

Joe McDermott, King County Council Chair

Creating a new Department of Local Services, with its focus on roads and permitting, and strengthening the relationships among other partners and local service providers will establish a unified and collaborative approach towards service delivery. In consultation and partnership with the Council, whose members directly represent residents in the unincorporated areas, we will convey to the unincorporated communities what we are doing, seek broad input on how to do it better, and endeavor to clarify and resolve issues as they arise.

Harold Taniguchi, Director, King County Department of Transportation and Local Services transition leader

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography