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King County budget delivers big for Downtown, Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and other Northwest Seattle residents

Summary

Kohl-Welles’ district benefits from the budget with a host of funding measures aimed at improving health outcomes, decreasing the impacts of systemic racism, addressing behavioral health and homelessness, supporting the arts and small businesses, and envisions an expanded water taxi service from Shilshole to downtown Seattle.

Story

The King County Council again demonstrated its ability to come together to invest in the region’s future with the passage Tuesday of a landmark $12.58 billion budget for the next two years.

With funding for racial and social justice and anti-racist programs, initial transformation of the criminal legal system, major investments in regional supportive housing, public health and support for our crucial transit system, the Council’s 2021-22 biennial budget responds to the needs of residents and businesses across King County.

“At a time when our country is facing so much political dysfunction and economic uncertainty, the King County Council and Executive Constantine have teamed up in working collaboratively on a budget that truly delivers for our region even in the midst of a worsening pandemic and with the need to make painful cuts,” said Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Council Budget Chair. “We have passed a budget for the next two years that invests with purpose, makes responsible reductions, supports our BIPOC communities and vulnerable populations, and does so in a way that is fiscally prudent and sustainable. I applaud the Executive and his team for working with us in laying down an effective and systemic framework. And I commend my fellow Councilmembers for having stepped up to the vast and continually evolving challenges we have faced in working for the public good under extraordinarily difficult conditions for the entire county.”

Kohl-Welles’ district benefits from the budget with a host of funding measures aimed at improving health outcomes, decreasing the impacts of systemic racism, addressing behavioral health and homelessness, supporting the arts and small businesses, and envisions an expanded water taxi service from Shilshole to downtown Seattle.

“I worked diligently to ensure funding was secured for communities throughout District 4,” Kohl-Welles said. “Many non-profit organizations, senior centers and arts, culture and science organizations are suffering from the economic fallout caused by COVID-19. This budget aims to uplift and maintain these critical institutions in a time when we are facing great economic uncertainty.”

Funding directly benefiting District 4 includes:

  • $200,000 for the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority for the Alaskan Way and Western Access Improvements Elevator Replacement Project.
  • $25,000 for Book-It Repertory Theatre.
  • $25,000 for Seattle Children’s Theatre.
  • $25,000 for Seattle Fishermen's Memorial.
  • $25,000 for Seattle Shakespeare Company.
  • Additional $200,000 for the Department of Community and Human Services to work with the Public Defender Association to develop a plan to expand the JustCAREand Co-LEAD programs to the Ballard Commons, Lake City, West Seattle Junction and other Seattle urban villages should additional federal grants become available for COVID-19 relief.
  • Restricts $400,000 to require a plan to extend the use of the North Seattle/Aurora Isolation and Quarantine Facility site when there is no longer a need to use the site for COVID-19 response to be used as a hygiene center or respite space for those experiencing homelessness in the north end.
  • $1 million for operational planning for previously studied water taxi expansion routes originating in Kenmore and Shilshole.
  • $2 million to support MIDD behavioral health and recovery programs reduced by the loss of sales tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More than $100,000 for the Ballard Senior Center that had not received funding from VSHSL as had all other senior centers in the district.
  • In addition, with future federal funds unknown at this time, the budget adds $4.25 million for an additional month to operate isolation and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19 in King County.

Expected FEMA reimbursement and the $262 million of federal CARES Act funding has covered most COVID-related Public Health spending in 2020, including:

  • $60 million for acquisition and development of isolation and quarantine facilities, PPE, and shelter de-intensification.
  • $40 million for new and redeployed staff to respond to COVID and incremental COVID-related leave.
  • $29 million for Public Health testing and contact tracing.

Additionally, the King County Council passed five COVID-related supplemental budgets and two supplemental budgets for the current biennium over the past eight months, all passing unanimously, with Kohl-Welles serving as Budget Chair on each of them. Councilmembers deliberately set priorities for their approach to investing nearly $262 million in federal and state CARES Act funding. 

The goals were achieved by significant investment in public health this year and making sure the county’s public health response was ready for the second wave of infections; by meeting its residents’ basic needs of food and housing stability; by providing immediate relief for economic recovery to key community institutions, non-profit organizations, private businesses, and government entities; by funding mental and behavioral health programs to address the increases in domestic abuse, child abuse and substance abuse; and by providing child care to essential workers and digital access to individuals most impacted by the public health emergency – especially students. 

“At the end of the day, the Council and Executive have worked collaboratively as a team – a group of elected leaders representing uniquely different constituencies with a broad range of political ideologies to pass a budget that truly delivers for all those who reside within the borders of King County,” Kohl-Welles added.

For more detailed information on the 2021-2022 biennial budget, you can click the following link to visit the Council’s budget website: https://www.kingcounty.gov/council/budget.aspx.


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