StoryJoined by the King County Sheriff and representatives of agencies that serve survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, the budget negotiation team comprised of four members of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee today introduced their 2015-2016 Budget Proposal. The committee members unveiled a budget plan that will include funding for the investigation of sexual assault crimes.
Budget Chair Joe McDermott introduces the Council-proposed 2015-2016 Budget on Nov. 11.
McDermott was joined by Sheriff John Urquhart; Councilmembers Dave Upthegrove, Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert; Mary Ellen Stone, Executive Director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center; Merrill Cousin, Executive Director of King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Barbara Langdon, Executive Director of Lifewire.
Joined by Committee Vice Chair Kathy Lambert and committee members Jane Hague and Dave Upthegrove, McDermott introduced the budget plan that is the culmination of months of review and negotiations. The result is a $9 billion proposal that is King County’s first biennial (two-year) budget for all county agencies, including those contained within the County General Fund.
“Going to biennial budgeting will allow us more time to delve into the various budgets and audits as we plan ahead for the next biennium,” said Lambert. “I also was very pleased that we restored the domestic violence unit in the Sheriff’s Office as this will help protect our citizens allowing specialized deputies to focus on these cases which frees up other deputies to be back on patrol.”
“We have worked very hard on internal rate stabilization, cost containment and organizational reforms,” said Hague. “Without these efforts, we could not have provided this budget’s level of service in public health, public safety and infrastructure.”
“I’m glad we protected core services by keeping all buses running and health clinics open,” said Upthegrove.
The proposed budget includes the addition of a domestic violence unit within the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“Domestic violence suspects have the highest likelihood to reoffend violently – up to and including murder,” said Sheriff John Urquhart. “The Budget Committee is showing true leadership by stepping up and reinvesting in this critical part of the Sheriff’s Office infrastructure. I applaud the leadership of Budget Committee Chairman Joe McDermott, Vice Chair Kathy Lambert, and Councilmembers Upthegrove and Hague.”
Funding for “Project 360” will also be part of the budget proposal. “Project 360” is a new innovative, collaborative program providing trauma-specific therapy, case management and prevention programs for homeless youth.
“Untreated sexual assault is a significant contributor to youth homelessness. KCSARC is partnering with YouthCare and Friends of Youth to provide trauma focused therapy, case management, advocacy, and prevention in order to break the cycle of chronic homelessness for our young people,” said Mary Ellen Stone, Executive Director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KSARC), which aids survivors of sexual assault. “It's this type of innovation that King County is happy to support.”
The Council-proposed budget includes a $1.5 billion General Fund Budget, three-quarters of which is targeted for law, justice and public safety services.
Throughout the many deliberations, the Budget Committee heard from speakers looking to maintain the operation of county public health centers. Partnerships and collaboration between the county, local jurisdictions and other community agencies helped locate the funding needed to keep the clinic doors open temporarily in Federal Way, White Center, Auburn and Northshore.
The proposed budget also continues the County Council’s commitment to eliminating long-standing and persistent inequities and social injustices into the operations of the County. The 2015-2016 Budget calls for the establishment of an Office of Equity and Social Justice.
King County is the “local” government for the 250,000 county residents who live in unincorporated communities. The 2015-2016 Budget will include additional funds for the road maintenance division, land use nuisance issues and noxious weed control.
“I am pleased that we were able to make some progress on our local government responsibilities. King County is the only local government for 250,000 unincorporated residents, which is equivalent to being the county’s second largest city,” said Lambert, who represents several unincorporated communities in East King County. “We need to continue to develop funding processes that more fully meet the unincorporated areas’ needs, but this is a step forward.”
The Budget Committee is expected to take its committee vote to move the proposal to the full Council tomorrow, Thursday, November 13. The final vote on the 2015-2016 King County Budget is scheduled for Monday, November 17 during the meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council.