Local News

King County passes 1996 budget, merges Metro and county

1996 budget Increasing police protection to unincorporated areas, restoring funding to human service programs, and providing funding for new initiatives in technology and natural resources, the Metropolitan King County Council passed their 1996 budget 12-1.
   The $2.6 billion budget passed on Nov. 21 is the first to reflect the voter-approved merger of Metro and King County.
   Faced with a $20 million deficit and a shrinking tax base due to annexations and incorporations, balancing the budget was a more formidable task.
   The council restored 26 of the 34 police officer positions cut by County Executive Gary Locke while increasing police protection in the unincorporated areas.
   The budget cuts 200 jobs from the county payroll, including eight from the Office of Strategic Planning and eight from the Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES).
   The budget provides $500,000 for a technology initiative for approximately 10 technology centers for students after school.
   Also provided is a $1 million challenge grant to suburban cities and Seattle as part of a cooperative effort to ensure that quality affordable housing is available to working families.
   The council was able to restore funding to many of the parks and recreation programs cut in Locke's proposal.
   "We need these programs not only because they contribute to our quality of life, but because they represent the best preventive medicine against escalating crime and decay in our communities," said Council Vice-Chair Louise Miller of Woodinville.
   Locke has 10 days from the day he receives the budget to sign it, veto all or parts of it, or allow it to become law without his signature.
   Other budget highlights: