King County supplemental $450 million budget prioritizes investments for County’s most vulnerable residents and funds critical programs across the county.
A $450 million supplemental King County budget, including Council investments for equity in criminal justice, an education campaign to inform seniors about possible property tax relief, outreach and information on housing resources and rights for the LGBTQ+ community, expanding the County’s commitment to climate action and more was approved Wednesday by the King County Council.
Budget and Fiscal Management Committee Chair Councilmember Claudia Balducci led the Council’s review of a budget that maintains critical infrastructure, funds necessary programs and keeps the county on track to avoid overspending.
“While the economy is booming, the constraints on the County’s revenue streams and our responsibility to the people of King County means we must keep a constant eye on the long-term health of our budget to protect critical, ongoing public services,” Balducci said. “In addition to supporting basic functions like wastewater treatment and public safety, I am pleased to report that the council’s omnibus budget adds investments that will make a difference for some of the most vulnerable residents in King County.”
Key components of the Executive’s proposed supplemental budget that were approved by Council Wednesday include:
- $4 million to upgrade the second floor of the West Wing of the King County Correctional Facility in downtown Seattle. This upgrade will allow it to be used as shelter for those people who are chronically homeless and high utilizers of the criminal justice system. The budget also includes $800,000 for operations of the new shelter. The City of Seattle will contribute half the capital and operating costs. This model builds on the success the County has had serving chronically homeless men on the first floor of the West Wing.
- $2.4 million for projects recommended by the criminal justice agencies to streamline data sharing and create operating efficiencies in the system. Investments in technology projects will create a platform for sharing digital data, like body cameras; enhance the ability to share data among different County justice agencies; and provide video conferencing for select court appearances. In addition, the County will hire a clinician to work in the courts to divert people who are arrested with less than three grams of drugs so they can receive treatment and not cycle through the jail.
- $54 million to purchase new hybrid and long-range battery powered buses. These investments will help to accelerate the transition to a green bus fleet in King County.
- $17 million in the Access Paratransit service. This investment will fully fund the County’s commitment to provide reliable and efficient service to people with disabilities who cannot use King County’s fixed route system of buses.
Additional investments added by the Council include:
- $55,000 to help the Department of Assessments to publicize the recent changes to the senior property tax exemption program. Because of a state law change, up to 20,000 more households in King County will now be eligible for property tax relief and it is important that those who are newly eligible be made aware.
- $150,000 for planning and development of affordable housing to be provided for seniors by Mt. Zion Housing Development in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood.
- $300,000 to fund an expansion of an intake line run by Mary’s Place. This additional resource should enable connection and referral services be provided to all women and families who reach out looking for shelter in King County.
- $300,000 to pilot a Conviction Review Unit in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which will reexamine convictions when credible evidence of innocence is presented. This investment will be part of redressing the racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system.
- $110,000 to support the package of climate change related legislation introduced in October by Councilmembers Balducci and Kohl-Welles, including funding for Climate Change Toolkits to support cities (where most GHG emissions occur) in developing and implementing effective local climate action plans.
- $25,000 to support outreach efforts for housing resources and information about housing rights to address the needs identified in a recent report by LGBTQ Allyship