County budget team warns of deep cuts after sales tax defeat

November 3, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10 a.m. Nov. 3, 2010

King County budget leaders said the defeat of a proposed sales tax hike to pay for criminal justice programs has left the county with few options to close a budget gap.

County Councilwoman Julia Patterson, chairwoman of the Budget Leadership Team, and Councilman Larry Gossett, another budget team member, decried the defeat in a statement released Wednesday morning. Voters rejected the proposal by a sizable margin in the Tuesday election.

“The idea of putting this measure on the ballot was to give the voters of King County a voice in the tough decisions that will be taking place over the next two weeks as we complete the 2011 county budget,” the statement read. “The voters have been clear in their choice and we are prepared to make the necessary cuts to public safety to balance this budget.”

Proposition 1, the measure to raise the sales tax rate to 2 cents per $10 purchase, appeared to be headed for certain defeat after 56 percent of voters decided against the proposal.

“The result of the election leaves us with few options—and all of those options are draconian,” Patterson and Gossett said. “Services that protect our most vulnerable citizens and provide options for people who need treatment more than a jail cell are not going to be available because the funds are simply not there.

Councilwoman Kathy Lambert and Councilman Reagan Dunn, the Issaquah-area representatives, also serve on the budget team.

County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed deep cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office and court system to close the budget gap. The proposals could reduce police service in unincorporated King County.

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