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October 3, 2018

Budget season begins

At the end of September, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced and transmitted his proposed budget for the 2019-2020 biennium. The budget is a massive document responsible for detailing how the County will provide critical local and regional services to millions of people, at a cost of about $11.6 billion.

The 2019-2020 proposed budget invests in clean water and healthy habitat, homelessness services, mobility, and other important services that reflect the values of King County residents. You can watch a helpful video overview of the Executive’s proposed budget by clicking the following link: https://vimeo.com/291300332

During the budget cycle, I am one of four councilmembers serving on the Council’s Budget Leadership Team – the committee tasked with leading the review of the Executive’s budget. The committee will spend the next six weeks analyzing all aspects of the spending plan and suggesting adjustments where needed.

The council’s review of the budget began today with a special meeting at which councilmembers heard from the county’s separately-elected officials on their proposed budgets. Separately-elected officials include the Assessor, Director of Elections, Prosecutor, Sheriff, and Presiding Judges of the District and Superior Courts.

During the budget period, policy committees at the council “stand down” so that we can focus our attention on completing the budget. I am leading the “Combatting our housing crisis” panel, which is responsible for working on budget issues relating to homelessness and housing. Final passage of the budget is expected to take place sometime in mid-November. You can follow all of the budget deliberations on the Council’s 2019-2020 Budget page, which you can access by clicking the following link: https://kingcounty.gov/council/budget.aspx

Save the date

On October 24th, I will be hosting a town hall discussion at the Nordic Museum. The topic of discussion will be the 2019-2020 budget. Joining me will be King County Budget Director Dwight Dively. This will be an opportunity for you to share your priorities and ask questions about how the budget will impact our communities and how the budget process works.

Who: King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles & King County Budget Director Dwight Dively.
What: Town Hall discussion regarding the 2019-2020 county budget.
Where: Nordic Museum, 2655 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107
When: October 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

In addition, there will be an opportunity to provide public comment on the budget when the Budget Committee holds a special night meeting tomorrow Thursday, October 4 at Chief Kanim Middle School in Fall City.

How do you get around?

Do you live in the Sunset Hill or Shilshole Bay neighborhood? If so, please take this community survey to help us better understand your transportation needs: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/THJJT5N

During the Great Recession, Metro service along Seaview Avenue was discontinued due to poor ridership. Over the last year, I have been working with community members to find a way to restore some sort of public transit in this neighborhood. The first step to finding a solution is to gather information about how folks in this region get around. Please take some time to complete the survey so we can work towards a practical resolution that keeps this area moving.

Legal assistance for clearing records

Clearing a criminal record should not be a luxury afforded only to those who have the means to do so. That is why I joined King County Councilmember Larry Gossett in sponsoring legislation to provide assistance to individuals who cannot afford legal representation to clear their criminal convictions.

Lack of finances should not determine who in our community is able to access this resource. This is one step that we can take to ensure all residents of King County have the opportunity to reach their full potential. State law provides the opportunity for people convicted of specific misdemeanors and felonies to go to court to have their convictions vacated and their criminal records cleared. The biggest challenge for many people seeking to have this done is the cost involved. Continue reading >>>

New grant helps dry cleaners reduce use of toxics

Last month, I joined Councilmember Rod Dembowski in celebrating Sun Drive-In Cleaners in Wallingford for eliminating their use of PERC - a chemical that leads to cancer - in their dry cleaning process. They were able to do this thanks in part to a $20,000 King County grant aimed at helping local businesses end the use of this dangerous chemical. Wallingford Dry Cleaners also received a grant for this process.

In 2019 King County’s Local Hazardous Waste Management Program anticipates aiding 10 local dry cleaners with $20,000 grants, with the goal of eliminating the use of PERC in all King County dry cleaners by 2025. You can watch a video about Sun Drive-In and the grant program by clicking here.

Safeco Field update

Last month, the Council approved legislation that will result in the County’s appropriating $135 million in funding to provide maintenance and upkeep to Safeco Field. This was part of an overall spending plan that directs hotel/motel tax revenues that become available in 2021. While I am pleased that the final approved legislation significantly increased funding for affordable housing from what was originally proposed, I could not support it because I believe giving this much funding to a facility that is occupied by a sole corporate tenant worth over $1 billion is an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.

Furthermore, the final agreed upon legislation strips funding from tourism promotion agencies to bring the level of funding for affordable housing and services for homeless youth up to the level of funding designated under my proposal. I am disappointed my colleagues chose to provide more money for Safeco Field by raiding money from organizations that greatly benefit our regional tourism industry and drive the hotel/motel tax collections. Tourism promotion is what fills hotel rooms with visitors. Gutting tourism dollars is like killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

The final vote for the legislation was 5 to 4. You can read a blog I posted on this issue in August by clicking this link: https://kccjeanneblog.com/2018/06/13/investing-in-our-region/

Firearm safety

On Monday, the Council passed a package of four separate gun safety laws, including a measure to require safe storage of all firearms. Secure storage, which I co-sponsored, was passed 6-3 while three other measures passed unanimously. Those other measures, which I either sponsored or co-sponsored, included the mandatory destruction of all firearms forfeited to the King County Sheriff, authorizing a youth-led report on reducing gun violence, and forming a task force to identify public health strategies in combatting gun violence.

Gun violence and suicide by gun is a public health crisis and a public health crisis calls for a public health solution. This legislative package is a common sense approach to reducing the harmful effects firearms can and do have on our communities. We’ve seen too many people take their own lives or the lives of others because a gun was improperly stored or not stored at all.

Furthermore, by developing a firearm safety task force, we can come up with even more thoughtful strategies to tackle this crisis and ensure that this firearm safety legislative package is not the last.

Email: jeanne.kohl-welles@kingcounty.gov
Website: www.kingcounty.gov/kohl-welles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CMKohlWelles
Twitter: twitter.com/KCCKohlWelles
Blog: kccjeanneblog.com
Telephone: 206-477-1004
Address: King County Council, 516 Third Ave, Suite 1200, Seattle, WA 98104-3272