King County shifts agencies to biennial budgeting
March 21, 2011
NEW — 8 a.m. March 21, 2011
Like the state and some municipal governments, the King County Council has taken a step to shift the county to a biennial, or two-year, budgeting process.
Officials said the shift to biennial budgeting extends the planning period county departments to further examine and define budgets.
The longer timeframe also allows the executive and council to improve program evaluation, enhance performance management and encapsulate cost-savings during the budget process.
The council unanimously adopted legislation to set the schedule for county agencies to transition to a biennial budgeting process. The county Department of Development and Environmental Services, the county permitting agency, is scheduled to be joined by the Department of Transportation in delivering a biennial budget for the 2012-13 cycle.
“As budget chair last year, during a time when the council had to make unprecedented cuts to our general fund, we were able to concentrate on improving the operations of DOT rather than muddling through and adopting a one-year budget,” Councilwoman Julia Patterson, Budget and Fiscal Management Committee chairwoman, said in a statement. “This is evidenced by the great work that was accomplished by the Regional Transit Task Force, which could not have been done if we didn’t have the time and resources to do the work.”
Voters approved a county charter amendment in 2003 to allow leaders to shift all county departments to biennial budgeting. The council adopted the timeline for adoption Feb. 28.
“Moving to biennial budgeting will provide King County with more time to dig deeper into department budgets to identify opportunities for savings, efficiencies and restructuring,” Councilman Larry Phillips, co-sponsor of the charter amendment featuring the biennial budgeting language, said in a statement. “Biennial budgeting paid dividends for Metro Transit, as we were able to use the off year of the biennial budget cycle to conduct an in-depth performance audit which is yielding big savings that we are using to preserve transit service.”
Leaders expect all non-general fund budgets to transition to biennial budgeting for 2013, and all county agencies should deliver biennial budgets for the 2015 King County budget. The spending plan is scheduled to be adopted in the fall of 2014.