King County executive highlights accomplishments at term’s halfway point
December 27, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
County Executive Dow Constantine reached the midpoint in a four-year term as King County’s leader Dec. 21.
In the days before the milestone, Constantine highlighted accomplishments in the job thus far — including efforts to rein in spending through negotiations between the county and labor groups, reducing employee health care costs and adopting a performance-based management program modeled on a system at Toyota.
“The common theme of many of our accomplishments is partnership — finding a way for people to work together who maybe didn’t work so well together before,” he said in a statement released Dec. 19.
Constantine entered office in late November 2009 and outlined a bold plan to remake county government.
In the past year, the executive joined the King County Council to enact a $20 vehicle-tab fee to prevent cuts to the King County Metro Transit system and joined state leaders to land Boeing 737 MAX production in Renton.
Under Constantine, the county also opted to use conservation dollars to purchase a Maury Island gravel mine and turn the shoreline land into a county park.
The county also opened Brightwater, a $1.8 billion treatment plant near Woodinville, in recent months. Constantine made the decision to switch contractors during construction to save money and keep the project on track.
Officials adopted flat fees for county permits at the Department of Development and Environmental Services — eliminating a frequent headache for rural and unincorporated landowners.
In November, council members adopted the 2012 budget weeks earlier than normal — even earlier than officials adopted the 2011 budget last year.
Debates about county budgets — and proposed cuts in government services — also defined Constantine’s term so far.
Unions representing more than 90 percent of county employees agreed to waive pay increases. The measure enabled officials to preserve government services.
Constantine also credited employees for reducing health care costs by $61 million. The county also adopted a performance-based management program — a customer-focused model called Lean.
The administration also emphasized efforts to reach out from county government in Seattle to King County cities. Less than a year after entering office, Constantine completed a trip to the county’s 39 cities. (The executive’s tour countywide stopped in Issaquah in February 2010.)
Constantine is due to outline the agenda for the year ahead in the 2012 State of the County address Feb. 6.
“We are not doing this alone,” he said. “Everyone has banded together in the spirit of serving the public — our employees, the County Council, countywide elected officials past and present, our partners in other jurisdictions and civic-minded residents. Everyone has contributed to this progress. I look forward to more in the coming year.”