StoryKing County Executive Dow Constantine this afternoon praised members of the Metropolitan King County Council for their unprecedented action to adopt a new 2011 King County budget a week ahead of schedule:
"It is unheard of for the Council to adopt the budget one week ahead of schedule, but I credit the leadership of the Budget Chair, Councilmember Julia Patterson, and the bipartisan members of her team, Councilmembers Kathy Lambert and Larry Gossett, for their collaborative and collegial work with us.
"I congratulate the Council for sticking to our principles and adopting a responsible budget that maintains our reserves without resorting to one-time gimmicks. By making difficult choices, the Council is helping to restore County government to sound financial footing with budgets that are sustainable over time. We will continue to develop, in partnership with our employees, a program of continuous improvement - with the goal of increasing productivity in each agency by 3 percent each year.
"We must acknowledge and thank the more than 90-percent of King County employees who demonstrated once again their commitment to public service, by waiving their cost-of-living adjustments for 2011. Through their act of shared sacrifice, this budget preserves $23.5 million in services to the public—$6.1 million of services in the General Fund—that would have been otherwise lost. The vast majority of the services restored in the adopted budget are funded from these COLA savings.
"Impending cuts by the state of Washington in human services and public health still lie ahead. These may push more costs onto the county, requiring further, painful but unavoidable reductions in those local services.
"The adopted budget still contains significant reductions in public safety services, in the form of fewer Sheriff's deputies, prosecutors, probation officers, and human services. We gave the public a choice, and 45 percent of voters said they were willing to pay a modest increase in the sales tax to maintain the current level of public safety services—but the majority has spoken, and now we must move forward."