Legislation creates new framework, implements broader outreach to unincorporated residents
StoryCiting expanded outreach and following the King County Strategic Plan, the Metropolitan King County Council today adopted a new model developed by the County Executive for interaction between the County and its 285,000 residents living in the unincorporated communities outside the boundaries of the county’s 39 cities. King County serves as the local government for unincorporated areas
“This new model will support strong community leadership that is vital to informed policy making,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, sponsor of the legislation. “My colleagues and I deeply appreciate the continued service of community advocates. We look forward to working together into the future.”
“This new framework will give an opportunity for more groups in the unincorporated area throughout the county to participate in the decision-making process,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents rural northeast county residents in District 3. “The Council and the Executive will be working together to make sure the concerns of residents are considered in both the legislative and executive branches of government.”
“The UACs have been strong and important advocates for the residents in the communities they represent in unincorporated King County,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “This framework is an opportunity to expand outreach to make sure that all of the 285,000 citizens living outside of our cities have a voice in their government.”
The adopted legislation calls for the establishment of unincorporated community service areas (CSAs) that will cover all of unincorporated areas. Under the framework, a single point of contact will hold meetings with service areas to develop work programs and provide regular opportunities for community-based organizations, such as Unincorporated Area Councils (UACs), to meet and work with King County officials.
Interbranch teams of existing staff from across the spectrum of County programs and services would coordinate public outreach and service delivery in each CSA, in close collaboration with the County Councilmember for that district. Staff would continue working with UACs while expanding outreach to include work with community councils and other organizations.
“In considering this legislation, we struggled to balance the needs of unincorporated area outreach with the County’s challenging financial situation,” said Budget Chair Julia Patterson. “I believe we have struck a good balance with this proposal. We have carefully considered the needs of unincorporated area residents, while building in assurances that expenses for this effort will not be increased beyond the current proposal in the 2012 budget.”
“I appreciate the service of our existing Unincorporated Area Councils. They have been working hard and providing our county leaders with the unincorporated area perspective for many years,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “I hope this new framework can build on those relationships and expand outreach to other parts of the unincorporated areas that don’t have Unincorporated Area Councils.”
The framework preserves the existing Community Service Centers that provide remote access to county services, as well as existing liaison staff for the UAC’s who would now serve as a single point of contact for residents. It also provides one-time transition funding to Unincorporated Area Councils. The Executive is scheduled to deliver a proposal to implement the Community Service Areas plan at the time he transmits the annual county budget to the Council in late September.
“I thank the Council for joining with me and my staff to ensure that all residents in the unincorporated areas can have meaningful involvement in the decisions that impact their communities,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “With this support we can now expand our outreach to all urban and rural unincorporated communities and work with them on a plan that can be implemented with existing staff and existing resources.”