King County executive reflects on 2010 milestones

December 27, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 5 p.m. Dec. 27, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine touted a series of initiatives to reform county government after a year in the top spot.

The executive highlighted efforts to reduce labor costs, implement a “green” energy policy, reform the permitting process and upgrade infrastructure. Key accomplishments included the creation of a regional partnership to offer animal-control services in Issaquah and more than 30 other cities, and recommendations to change Metro Transit in order to put the agency on more solid financial footing.

“In one year we’ve made dramatic strides toward putting the county on sound financial footing, while handling emergent issues in a methodical and responsible way,” Constantine said in a statement released Monday. “Thanks to our strong leadership team, and dedicated King County employees, we have accomplished much to protect what matters most to the people of King County.”

The year also brought setbacks. In November, the electorate rejected a proposed sales-tax hike meant to preserve criminal justice services.

King County Council members later cut more than 20 deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office in a lean 2011 budget. Locally, Liberty High School is scheduled to lose a school resource officer as a result of the cuts, and a police storefront near Issaquah is due to close.

Constantine also cited efforts to round up dollars to replace the aging South Park Bridge in South Seattle and to secure federal funding to conduct interim repairs on the weakened Howard Hanson Dam.

The county also opted to use $19.1 million from the Conservation Futures fund to purchase a Maury Island gravel mine and turn the land into a county park. Local environmental groups intend to repay $2 million into the fund through private fundraising.

The administration and unions representing more than 90 percent of county employees agreed to forego cost-of-living raises for next year.

“We’ve changed the calculus on what had been an unsustainable rise in costs, and more closely matched our expenditures with our revenues,” Constantine said. “We are putting King County on the right track, and I look forward to what we can accomplish in the year ahead.”

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