King County shifts to biennial budgeting

March 22, 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 for 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 Department of Development and Environmental Services, the county permitting agency, is on track to join the Department of Transportation in delivering a biennial budget for the 2012-13 cycle.

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.

Leaders expect all nongeneral 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 should be adopted in fall 2014.

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King County Council lists smart spending as a top priority

March 22, 2011

The priorities for King County leaders for the next five years include fiscal sustainability, a more responsive and transparent county government, and a focus on improving the quality of life for residents.

County Council offered unanimous approval March 14 for the priorities, a list known as the Operational Strategic Plan. The goals build upon a framework established in the countywide strategic plan adopted last year.

The adopted plan lays out the council’s top priorities for the next five years: establishing policies to protect and enhance the economy, environment, health and safety for county residents; maintaining and enhancing financial strength for the county; and maintaining and increasing public trust in the council and county institutions.

The adopted plan also calls for the development of identifiable measures, so progress can be monitored and presented in quarterly reports to the public.

“The main focus on accountability in this strategic plan is a constant reminder about the imperative for government to serve its citizens in the most efficient, accessible manner,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah representative and chairwoman of the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, said in a news release.

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DUI accident injures driver, destroys classic car

March 22, 2011

The driver of a 1968 Corvette was partially ejected and taken to Overlake Medical Center with serious injuries. Police later arrested him for suspicion of DUI. By Washington State Patrol

Washington State Patrol troopers said a Bellevue man flipped a classic Corvette in a March 20 crash along Interstate 90 near Issaquah.

Troopers said the 52-year-old driver crashed the 1968 Corvette on the westbound interstate near West Lake Sammamish Parkway at about 5:20 p.m. Responders to the crash scene discovered the car upside down on the right road shoulder and the driver partially ejected from the mangled vehicle. The accident did involve any other vehicles.

Troopers said witnesses observed the vehicle traveling at high speed and then crashing into a concrete jersey wall and rolling onto the road shoulder.

Medics transported the seriously injured driver to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue. Troopers later arrested him for suspicion of driving under the influence.


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The Issaquah Press invites readers to conversation group

March 22, 2011

The Issaquah Press wants to hear from readers about what they read most often in the paper and what components are missing.

Readers are invited to join a conversation group led by a moderator. Two sessions will be held: 6:30-8 p.m. April 14 and 1-2:30 p.m. April 15. Both groups will meet at the Hailstone Feed Store, the historic gas station, along Front Street North.

It has been eight years since the last readership focus groups were held, said Debbie Berto, publisher of The Press.

“Times have certainly changed since then,” she said. “We need to hear from our readers about what is important to them today, not eight years ago. The Internet, smaller daily newspaper coverage and other competition has caused us to refocus some of our news space in recent years. But is it what readers want? More important, is it what they want in the future?”

Interested readers need to apply for one of the two dozen spots. Applicants will be selected to involve a range of readers of varying ages, lengths of residency and various neighborhoods.

Those who are not chosen for the groups will participate in a survey to gather their opinions about various topics.

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Planners approve lot consolidation for Costco garage

March 22, 2011

Costco is allowed to combine three lots near the company’s Issaquah headquarters and flagship warehouse.

The city Planning Department approved the application March 3.

The lot line adjustment is designed to allow for the construction of a parking structure on the footprint of the three original lots. The site is located at the intersection of Northwest 10th Avenue and Northwest Lake Drive.

City development commissioners approved the parking structure in August 2009. Plans call for the 1,601 parking stalls spread across five levels, with a first level built below ground and a top level with rooftop parking.

Costco employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business. The parking structure is meant for employees, not for shoppers at the nearby warehouse.

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Eagles net season’s first victory at Patriots’ expense

March 22, 2011

Dayna Bennett, of Issaquah, swings a backhand shot back to Liberty’s Emmie Kellogg-Smith during their No. 1 singles match March 17. Bennett won, 6-4, 6-1. By Greg Farrar

The Issaquah High School girls tennis team took advantage of one of the dry days last week when it defeated host Liberty, 7-0, March 17 in a nonleague match.

The match was the first of the season for both teams.

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State investigators: Ex-Issaquah insurance agent bilked seniors

March 22, 2011

State insurance investigators on March 15 arrested a former Issaquah insurance agent suspected of stealing more than $1 million in retirement funds from elderly clients, and then using the money to pay for online psychics and more.

Jasmine Jamrus-Kassim faces 21 counts of first-degree theft for stealing retirement funds. Investigators said five victims — Bellevue, Renton and Seattle seniors ranging in age from 74 to 90 — made out checks to the agent, because they trusted her to reinvest the money.

Instead, investigators said she funneled the money into a personal account. Records show thousands of dollars spent on clothes, jewelry and a trip to Mexico.

The records also show large payments to online psychic advisers, including $20,000 in charges from one psychic website in a single month.

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Six ways to curb your Web addiction

March 22, 2011

By Ehrik Aldana

You know you’ve done it. The next time you sit at the computer to type an essay or finish a research project, see how long it takes you before you find yourself updating your Facebook status or surfing Youtube for viral videos. A simple 30-minute assignment may take you until 1 or 2 in the morning to finish. You, my friend, have a serious case of Web addiction. Here are six ways to make your evening on the computer more productive:

1. Deactivate your Facebook account… if only for a little while. The next time you have a big project or paper to write and fear engaging in the online social hall, consider going to the “settings” section on your profile and deactivating your account for a week or two. There is no way to permanently “delete” all of your information. But you can readily reactivate your account with all of your photos and info when your project is over.

2. PageAddict… This FireFox extension monitors your Internet usage. Once installed, PageAddict can display a summary of the time you’ve spent on each website for the day and even include graphs and charts. The jarring results you find may be the wakeup call you need to get focused.

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PSE hikes natural gas rate for residential customers

March 22, 2011

Puget Sound Energy residential natural gas customers should start paying about $1.68 more per month starting April 1.

State regulators approved the increase March 15, as part of a settlement to allow PSE to increase natural gas revenues by $19 million a year, or 1.8 percent.

For the average residential natural gas customer using 68 therms a month, the increase should amount to $1.68, for a revised bill of $84.65.

The agreement does not change the $10-per-month basic service charge for residential natural gas customers. PSE had originally asked to increase the fee to $10.62 per month.

The commission received 254 public comments about the proposal — 241 opposed to the change, and 13 undecided or neutral.

Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and almost 750,000 natural gas customers in Western Washington, including Issaquah.

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School district needs more money for science curriculum

March 22, 2011

After absorbing blows from state budget cuts, the Issaquah School District is $500,000 short of the money it needs to update its elementary school science curriculum.

“The materials are outdated,” Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Emilie Hard said.

This year, the district is updating two of its curricula — elementary school science and high school language arts. Usually, district administrators update curricula every seven years.

The elementary school science curriculum was last updated in 2003, but budget cuts have lengthened the wait for high school language arts — it was last updated during a three-year period from 1999-2001.

District officials expect the high school language arts curriculum adoption will cost about $600,000. The elementary school science curriculum will cost an estimated $1.2 million, with the district paying for $700,000 of it, Hard said.

The new curricula are crucial, she said.

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