Issaquah legislator introduces measure to eliminate some Washington counties

January 26, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. Jan. 26, 2011

Under a proposal offered by state Rep. Glenn Anderson, state leaders could dissolve some Washington counties for taking in more in state dollars than the counties contribute through sales tax revenue.

The measure is unlikely to emerge from the House of Representatives, or even a committee. But the proposal has started a discussion about the harsh budget reality legislators face.

Democrats from populous Western Washington counties — Seattle Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Snohomish Rep. Hans Dunshee — joined Anderson to introduce the proposed constitutional amendment.

“Washington is facing an extraordinary budget crisis just like California,” he said in a statement released Wednesday. “We must take direct action to restore fiscal sanity.”

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Press Editorial

January 11, 2011

State budget proposal is just a starting point

Gov. Chris Gregoire has presented a long list of possible cuts for Washington to balance a $37 billion two-year budget. Legislators convened this week to begin sorting the ideas and adding their own.

All of the governor’s ideas have merit, some more than others.

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Eastside transit forum canceled due to weather

January 11, 2011

NEW — 12:05 p.m. Jan. 11, 2011

The transit forum scheduled for Tuesday night has been canceled due to the possibility of inclement weather, King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert announced Tuesday morning.

Lambert and Councilwoman Jane Hague had been scheduled to host a forum on Mercer Island to discuss Eastside mass transit issues.

Lambert said she plans to reschedule a forum to discuss a regional task force’s recommendations for future mass transit.

The task force recommended for King County Metro Transit to tie bus service to productivity, connections to job markets and demand for transit — instead of adding or reducing service based on geographic formulas.

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King County councilwomen host Eastside transit forum Tuesday

January 10, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. Jan. 10, 2011

The future of mass transit on the Eastside is the topic at a Tuesday forum hosted by King County councilwomen Kathy Lambert and Jane Hague.

The focus of the meeting is a recent report from Regional Transit Task Force and potential impacts to the Eastside. The report represents a possible roadmap for future King County Metro Transit bus service.

The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Mercer Island Community Center, 8236 S.E. 24th St.

The task force recommended for Metro Transit to tie bus service to productivity, connections to job markets and demand for transit — instead of adding or reducing service based on geographic formulas.

The report also urged county leaders to update the way Metro Transit is funded.

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King County executive reflects on 2010 milestones

December 27, 2010

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.”

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Councilman urges King County to find better plan to fund public safety

December 1, 2010

NEW — 1 p.m. Dec. 1, 2010

Reagan Dunn urged other King County Council members Wednesday to create a “priority commission” to determine how the cash-strapped county can fund the criminal justice system.

The county councilman offered the proposal less than a month after voters rejected a sales tax hike meant to limit cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office and county courts.

The council later cut more than 20 deputies from the sheriff’s office in a lean 2011 budget. Dunn argued against the criminal cuts and refused to approve the spending plan.

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.

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Budget cuts nix police storefront, resource officer

November 16, 2010

The austere county budget for the upcoming year closes a police storefront near Issaquah and reassigns a popular resource officer from Liberty High School.

The spending plan also eliminates 28 deputy positions from the King County Sheriff’s Office, reduces police service in rural areas and curtails investigations into burglaries and other property crimes. The budget includes, all told, about 300 staff reductions.

King County Council members approved the lean budget Nov. 15, after a monthslong debate about how to fund police and other criminal justice services. Read more

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Issaquah councilman shapes bold reform plan for Metro Transit

November 16, 2010

Report urges transit agency to rethink  bus routes

King County Metro Transit should rethink how the public transit agency transports riders and maps bus routes, a regional transit task force has recommended.

The recommendations in the Regional Transit Task Force report represent a potential roadmap to long-standing differences related to Metro bus service. Read more

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City Council decides against property tax hike

November 16, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 16, 2010

The anemic economy has prompted the City Council to decide against a property tax increase for 2011.

The unanimous decision holds the property tax rate at the 2008 level. The council followed a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger to avoid a property tax hike for 2011. Members voted on the measure Monday night.

The city collects $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes.

The mayor proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a slight increase from the $29.8 million general fund budget in 2010. Money collected from property taxes accounted for almost a quarter of the general fund revenue in the 2010 budget.

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Leaders pledge ‘draconian’ cuts after sales tax defeat

November 9, 2010

In the half-dozen years Dave Montalvo has served as the Liberty High School resource officer, the requests start just before homecoming and prom: Students ask for a boy or girl to be caught in a traffic stop as part of a detailed ruse to ask for a date.

The longtime King County Sheriff’s Office deputy said the ritual helps build bonds between students and law enforcement officers. Despite the success, Montalvo could be reassigned to patrol duty soon.

“I come in here with more of an educational attitude rather than with a punitive attitude,” he said. “Just by working with the kids and explaining the circumstances and bad decisions, rather than saying, ‘I’m going to throw the book at you every time that I can,’ really makes a difference in making relationships.”

The cash-strapped county could reassign Montalvo and other school resource officers, close police storefronts in rural areas, lay off deputies and reduce court services.

Proposition 1 — the countywide measure to raise the sales tax rate to 2 cents per $10 purchase to limit the proposed cuts — collapsed in double-digit defeat on Election Day. Officials estimated a $35 million boon next year and $48 million in 2012.

Instead, King County budget leaders said the defeat means “draconian” cuts in order to close a $60 million shortfall.

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