October 26, 1998
Sims unveils 1999 budget
by Woodinville Weekly staff
SEATTLE--King County Executive Ron Sims proposed a 1999 budget that would add more police officers and open a new wing of the county jail, but raises property taxes and leads to cuts in a number of county departments.
Sims submitted his $2.7 billion budget, which would raise taxes 5.5 percent, last week to the County Council.
"Just as we did this year, we'll continue to manage this government so taxpayers get the greatest value for their dollar while we deliver the vital services that only regional county government can provide," Sims said.
His budget proposal;
- Adds the equivalent of 50 staff and officers to the county Sheriff's office;
- Opens a new jail unit at the Kent Regional Justice Center;
- Creates a "Mental Health Court" to deal with mentally ill misdemeanor defendants;
- Adds 70,000 hours of transit service
- Spends $6.3 million on salmon, including enforcement of land-use laws.
According to the Executive's Office, the budget responds to new state laws that have resulted in rising jail populations. Criminal justice dollars reflect over 65 percent of the $426.5 million current expense fund.
But, almost $2 million is cut from Human Services, and Parks sees another $1.3 million in cuts. The King County Fair would be reduced from 16 to 10 days.
The budget would also cut animal control back from seven days to five days a week, discontinue the Voter's Pamphlet for the primary, reorganize Information and Technology Services and reduce 14 FTEs there.
Still, early estimates from the county Assessor's Office indicate there may be an additional $600,000 available in revenue which Sims has requested be used to alleviate cuts in the Human Services budget.
County Councilmen Rob McKenna and Greg Nickels advised Sims not to expect a rubber stamp for his budget, promising instead a bi-partisan budget process. Comment will also be taken through the county's web site, www.metrokc.gov.