23 January 2023:
All the best to you in 2023! When I look back at 2022, I will recall a year in which I personally had two catalytic converters stolen from the same car, but I will also remember it as a year of people coming together after the darkness of Covid-19.
When 2022 began, who would have predicted that Putin would invade Ukraine, or that 43.7 million Ukrainians would successfully resist Russia’s 144.4 million people? In addition, who expected mortgage rates to rise to 7% or that the median family home price in Seattle would rise to $1 million, with inflation reaching almost 9% (now it is 6.5%)?
As we begin 2023, I am committed to building more bridges between King County Government and the public it serves, and working to focus more resources on public safety, with an emphasis on supporting the hiring of additional officers. Since 2020, we have seen a reduction in the number of officers in King County and if we are going to get a handle on the crime wave that has swept through our region, we need to be smart about how we target the resources we have.
Every two years, King County passes a budget that informs its priorities for the following two years. At the end of 2022, King County passed its 2023/2024 budget, and I wanted to share some information on what was included in it, as well as provide you with background on just a few of the many services that King County already provides.
From the only designated Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma and verified burn center in the state of Washington to an airfield that is one of the busiest, non-hub airports in the country, these are just two of the facilities operated by King County. King County also provides law enforcement to contracting cities and unincorporated areas, wastewater treatment, funding for district and superior courts, transit services, permitting and more.
Please take a moment to read about some of the budget highlights from 2022 and to learn about the services King County provides to keep our economic engine running and to make our communities safer and healthier.
2023/2024 Budget Highlights:
On November 15, 2022, King County passed a $16.2 billion budget for the 2023/2024 budget cycle. Highlights of funding in this budget include:
• $220 million to convert Metro to all-electric buses by 2035
• $166 million to fund affordable housing near transit centers, supportive housing operations and coordinated crisis response efforts to homelessness
• More than $50 million to fund environmental improvements and protections, including restoring fish passage habitat, removing nitrogen and chemicals from wastewater, and expanding access to heat pumps and solar panels for homeowners in unincorporated King County
King County offers the following services:
King County International Airport/Boeing Field supports $3.5 billion in local business and 16,000 jobs, creating $2 billion in labor income in King County. The 150 tenants directly support more than 5,000 jobs in the regional economy.
The airport serves small commercial passenger airlines, cargo carriers, private aircraft owners, helicopters, corporate jets, and military and other aircraft. It's also home to various Boeing Company operations as well as The Museum of Flight.
Harborview Medical Center is the only designated Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma and verified burn center in the state of Washington and is the largest hospital provider of charity care in Washington state, providing quality care to indigent, homeless, mentally ill, incarcerated, and non-English speaking adult populations in King County.
In 1931, the new 400-bed Harborview Hospital was opened on its current site, once called Profanity Hill and now known as First Hill. Harborview Medical Center is owned by King County, and since 1967, the University of Washington has been contracted to provide the management and operations.
Since 1931, it has been the main tertiary-care training facility for the University of Washington's School of Nursing, and is the main site for the region's medical and nursing education.
The King County Sheriff’s Office has over 1,200 employees and serves the law enforcement needs of over half a million people in unincorporated areas and twelve contract cities including Carnation, Sammamish, Skykomish, Woodinville, Beaux Arts Village, Covington, Maple Valley, Newcastle, Burien, SeaTac, Kenmore and Shoreline. The KCSO also provides police departments for the Muckleshoot Tribe, Metro Transit, and the King County International Airport. However, services such as helicopters and bomb disposal are available to King County's 2.2 million residents.
King County Wastewater Treatment Division was created in the 1950s, when wastewater flowed into Lake Washington, Puget Sound, many rivers, and smaller lakes without enough treatment, fouling water and making a sullied mess of local beaches.
In 1958, the voters created Metro and developed a regional wastewater treatment system based on watersheds as opposed to political boundaries.
Shortly after Metro was formed, construction began on the county's two existing regional treatment plants, West Point in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood and South Treatment Plant in Renton, which were officially up and running by 1966. By the late 1960s, regional water quality began improving dramatically.
In 1994, King County assumed authority of Metro and its legal obligation to treat wastewater for 34 local jurisdictions and local sewer agencies that contract with King County.
Did you know?
• King County is the 12th largest county in the nation.
• If King County were a state, it would be the 37th largest state in the nation.
• As of 2021, King County’s population was 2,252,305.
• Unincorporated King County has a population of 248,160.
• Seattle is the largest city in King County with a population of 762,500.
• Skykomish is the smallest city in King County with a population of 165.
• King County International Airport is one of the nation’s busiest non-hub airports, averaging 180,000 takeoffs and landings each year and is the home base for about 150 businesses including air cargo companies, flight schools, charter operations and helicopter services.
• Harborview Medical Center serves as the regional trauma and burn referral center for Alaska, Montana and Idaho, and the disaster preparedness and disaster control center for Seattle and King County.
• The Renton wastewater treatment plant, also known as the “South Plant,” treats wastewater for about 720,000 people living east and south of Lake Washington. Approximately 90 million gallons a day of wastewater is treated at this facility during the dry months and up to about 300 million gallons a day during the rain/storm season.
• The King County Sheriff’s Office has 781 commissioned officer positions (deputies through chiefs). There are currently 99 vacancies.
• You can subscribe to the King County Sheriff Office’s newsletter here.
I hope this information has been helpful in providing you with a snapshot of both what was accomplished in 2022 and what King County provides for our residents.
It is an honor to serve you and, as always, if you have any questions (or criticisms) about the information contained above, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 206-477-1007 or reach out to me directly at email@example.com.
With best wishes,
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember
P.S. To stay up to date on everything going on in D7 and around King County, subscribe to my Bi-Weekly E-Newsletter.