King County expects layoffs, reduced road maintenance

August 24, 2012

NEW — 11 a.m. Aug. 24, 2012

King County expects to lay off 54 road workers and officials said the lack of attention on roads could mean further deterioration.

Officials also plan to leave 11 vacant jobs unfilled — for a total reduction of 65 jobs in the county Road Services Division — due to a drop in tax revenues. The reduction is expected to go into effect early next year, as the 2013 budget goes into effect.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the reductions Thursday. The loss of funding could mean reduced maintenance to correct problems, such as potholes, and a slower response during snow and ice storms.

The county is responsible for about 1,500 miles of roadway, but the reduction in revenue means less maintenance, especially roads in rural areas.

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Voters could decide dollars for Eastside Fire & Rescue, emergency services

August 21, 2012

The source of dollars underpinning emergency response agencies throughout King County — including Eastside Fire & Rescue — is poised to go before voters next year.

In late July, leaders from the county, cities and emergency response agencies recommended a six-year renewal for the countywide Medic One/EMS levy. The existing levy is due to expire Dec. 31, 2013, and the task force urged leaders to put the property tax measure on the ballot again.

The annual property tax levy provided almost $1.4 million for the 2012 EFR budget. The amount each agency receives is derived through a formula based on assessed values and call volumes in the agency’s service area.

“It’s very important” as a funding source, EFR Deputy Chief Bud Backer said Aug. 2.

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Voters endorse property tax measure, incumbent candidates

August 14, 2012

King County voters endorsed a $200 million property tax measure to build a juvenile justice facility to replace the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle.

The property tax measure, Proposition 1, appeared on a crowded primary ballot alongside federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

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King County councilwoman touts arena proposal’s economic potential

August 7, 2012

Before the King County Council made a landmark decision to authorize public dollars for a sports-and-entertainment arena, Kathy Lambert received 2,700 emails.

The councilwoman, a Redmond resident and the Issaquah representative on the council, said most messages urged the council to approve the arena proposal.

Kathy Lambert

Reagan Dunn

In the end, after months of discussion and hours of testimony, Lambert joined the council majority to approve a key agreement for a $490 million arena — a linchpin in the plan to bring professional basketball back to Washington.

The council agreed July 30 to contribute up to $80 million for a proposed Seattle arena near Safeco Field — if investors can secure NBA and NHL franchises. The county contribution is capped at $5 million if only professional basketball comes to the arena.

The agreement does not include additional taxes for county residents. Plans call for 30-year public bonds to finance the arena, and for arena revenue to pay off the bond debt.

Lambert later cited the proposed arena’s economic benefits — jobs for arena construction and operation, plus tax revenue for the county and a tourism attraction — for the region as reasons for the yes vote.

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Countywide fingerprinting service aids Issaquah Police Department

July 31, 2012

Voters to decide funding for crime-solving tool in November

City corrections officers at the Issaquah City Jail use a King County-backed fingerprinting tool to identify every inmate behind bars.

The tool is a useful component in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, a regional police fingerprint identification service. Issaquah officers used information from AFIS 2,100 times last year to determine if a jail inmate is evading a warrant, concealing a criminal record or using a false identity.

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Local King County Council representatives split on arena deal

July 31, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. July 31, 2012

The local representatives on the King County Council, Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn, came down on opposite sides Monday as the council approved a key agreement for a $490 million arena — a linchpin in the plan to bring professional basketball back to Seattle.

Kathy Lambert

Reagan Dunn

The council agreed to contribute up to $80 million for a proposed Seattle arena near Safeco Field — if investors can secure NBA and NHL franchises. The county contribution is capped at $5 million if only professional basketball comes to the arena.

In a 6-3 decision, after hours of testimony from the public and several amendments from council members, Lambert and others agreed to support the arena pact. Dunn, and councilmen Larry Phillips and Pete von Reichbauer, dissented.

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King County voters to decide on funds for fingerprint services

July 23, 2012

NEW — 4:30 p.m. July 23, 2012

King County leaders put a measure on the November ballot to raise dollars for regional police fingerprint identification services.

The proposal is to fund operations and expansion in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, in operation through 2018. The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department.

The proposed renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home. The measure is expected to generate about $119 million overall through property tax revenue.

In a unanimous decision Monday, King County Council members agreed to place the measure on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The fingerprint system is managed by the King County Sheriff’s Office and provides services to county and local law enforcement agencies in King County. Investigators use the AFIS database to match fingerprints and palmprints to criminal suspects.

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Voters to decide dollars for juvenile justice center

July 17, 2012

King County voters could decide next month to increase the property tax rate in order to prepare the criminal justice system for the decades ahead.

The ballot measure Proposition 1 asks voters to approve a $200 million property tax levy to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle.

“We have a fairly good court system. We have a good prosecution office. We have good sheriff’s deputies. But this facility is the leak in the pipeline,” King County Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a July 13 interview. “For criminal justice to work effectively — especially with the increase in crime we’re seeing right now — all aspects of that pipeline need to be operating effectively.”

If the nine-year levy is passed, homeowners can expect to pay about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $20 per year for a home assessed at $350,000 in 2013.

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Funding infusion could keep local 4-H programs afloat

July 17, 2012

Local 4-H youth programs could receive a $100,000 infusion to continue, if King County Council members approve a request from County Executive Dow Constantine.

The proposal is meant to continue 4-H programs — horseback riding, county fair exhibitions and other agrarian pursuits — through the year.

Constantine sent a budget request for the funds to the council June 27. The proposal earned early praise from council members, including the Issaquah-area representatives, but requires approval before the 4-H organization receives the dollars.

The proposal also aims to re-appropriate $16,000 in funding from last year to King County’s partner in 4-H programs, Washington State University.

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Leaders highlight Evergreen State national parks

July 17, 2012

King County leaders highlighted nearby national parks and declared July 9 as Washington State National Parks Day to recognize the economic and environmental benefits such places add to the landscape.

The national parks in Washington attract millions of parkgoers each year, including many out-of-state and foreign guests. Officials said the visitors then contribute to King County and other communities near the parks. Washington received more than $264 million in economic benefits related to national park units in 2010, National Park Service officials reported.

“Thanks to the abundant recreation opportunities in our national parks, local residents as well as visitors have access to valuable resources for outdoor physical fitness activities,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, King County Board of Health vice chairwoman and the Issaquah representative, said in a statement. “Our national parks contribute immeasurably to the quality of life we enjoy in the Northwest.”

Officials also used the proclamation to attract attention to cuts in the National Parks Service budget.

“It is imperative we continue to fund these parks and keep them in the pristine condition we see them in today for future generations to enjoy,” Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement.

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