The group reached this milestone after months of meeting online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members had to build trust, create structure, establish values, and immerse themselves in King County’s Equity and Social Justice strategies.
The result of those meetings is a plan of how to allocate $10 million in capital project funds to five urban unincorporated areas (East Federal Way, East Renton, Fairwood, North Highline-White Center and Skyway-West Hill), as well as more than $1.3 million in marijuana tax revenue to the Skyway and White Center neighborhoods.
“Participatory budgeting,” where community decides how to spend part of a government’s budget, is one of the few of its kind in the country and a first for Washington. King County Local Services is working with the Participatory Budgeting Project to help guide its process.
The steering committee, whose 21 members were selected by King County in June, based these allocation decisions on the values it set in order to help create racial equity in the unincorporated areas while acknowledging King County’s position that racism itself is a public health crisis.
Here’s how the Community Investment Budget Committee (members voted to officially add “Budget” to the group’s name over the summer) chose to allocate the capital project funding:
- East Federal Way $1.96 million, or 20 percent
- East Renton $301,000, or 3 percent
- Fairwood $720,000, or 7 percent
- North Highline-White Center $3.1 million, or 31 percent
- Skyway-West Hill $3.9 million, or 39 percent
The committee also voted on how to allocate more than $1.3 million in marijuana retail tax revenue to Skyway-West Hill and White Center-North Highline, the two areas with the most retail marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated King County.
The committee decided that Skyway-West Hill will receive $810,000 and White Center will receive $540,000. This money will be used on programs, services, community events, and community improvements.
The committee is now working on how to identify the projects, programs, and services this funding could support, as well as details of how the public will decide on how the money is ultimately spent.
- Ayanna Brown, Skyway-West Hill: “I have learned that while each unincorporated King County area is in the ‘same boat,’ each area is unique and has its own set of needs. With that, solutions to address those needs are not one-size-fits-all. I am ecstatic about funding coming into my community, and I want my community to know that this milestone is just the beginning!”
- Trenise Rogers, East Federal Way: “I’m extremely honored to be in the company of groundbreaking pioneers whom I have grown to admire and hold in high esteem. I have learned whenever disenfranchised communities meet, access and racial equity happens. As co-chair for East Federal Way, I’m filled with joy and great anticipation for my community.”
- Kimnang Seng, White Center-North Highline: “I’ve learned that our voices can be heard if we advocate and build bridges. I want our communities to know that if we all take ownership of this process, this can be an ongoing thing.”
- Debi Eberle, East Renton: “It is very exciting to be a part of the first-ever participatory budgeting process in King County. Empowering communities to envision their needs, list all those needs, let those communities discuss and then vote to make the final decision on what is needed - and then to get to build the plan to follow through - is a ‘win-win’ for all. It's been a great experience to work with the county to build a program that we hope will continue into the future, a program that we feel will build communities and enrich the lives of those in them.”
- Noni Ervin, Fairwood: “I am grateful to be part of this participatory budgeting process and honored to be serving alongside my fellow committee members. With patience and a massive dose of ‘sticktoitiveness,’ we are demonstrating that we will make the best decisions for ourselves, and systems should be reflective of this. Achieving this milestone of allocating funds was a result of getting to our core values: Accountability, Building Community, Community Engagement, Community Empowerment, Needs-Based, Racial Equity, and Transparency.”
- Yvette Dinish, Skyway-West Hill: “A significant aspect to this committee is not only the collaboration, but also that we are from very distinct areas. That is a very good thing. During my years of community engagement and activism, it usually has been within the greater Seattle area. It is refreshing and exciting to engage and collaborate with like-minded, boots-on-the-ground community members from underserved areas outside of Seattle. And we get to take it to a whole new level in being part of the groundbreaking process in how we help our communities allocate money from our government via participatory budgeting.”
- Annah Irungu, East Federal Way: "Being a member of this committee has opened my eyes to the possibilities in representation of minority and historically underserved communities in Washington. Although fairly modest, the funds allocated to my community serve not only a fiscal need, but they also highlight the need to remain resilient in the processes towards equity and representation. The key is remaining involved long enough and getting one’s ‘voice on board.’ It has been an eye-opening opportunity as a person of and for the immigrant community."
- Michelle Faltaous, Fairwood: “I have learned that the different communities within unincorporated King County are extremely diverse. The CIBC members have worked together to develop framework to help with allocating funds to underserved communities. It has been an empowering and fulfilling process!"
- Marissa Jauregui, White Center-North Highline: “I enjoy getting to learn about other unincorporated communities in King County and ways to center voices that are not always at the table. Being able to have and hold difficult conversations that lead to decisions at the county level is inspiring and creates a new way for community to hold the county accountable.”
- Jimmy Brown, East Federal Way: “My experience as a member of the CIBC has been a revelation and empowering journey. I’ve learned that collective decision making requires patience and selflessness. Understanding that community is unique because of individual thoughts and ideas, and this must be prioritized when seeking to collaborate with community in any process. The county has demonstrated an understanding for allowing community to build solutions and the decision for the allocations is truly representative of this.”
- Rebecca Berry, Skyway-West Hill: “Members of our entire ‘PB’ team are incredible advocates and leaders. Every one of us centers our community's needs and voice as we pioneer this groundbreaking participatory budget process.The amount of learning, listening, discussing, stretching and advocating has been extensive and valuable. Most importantly, we thoroughly defined our values and applied them with care and intention to this work. We can't wait to welcome you in!”
- King County selects Community Investment Committee members to guide $10 million investments in urban unincorporated areas
- Participatory Budgeting Project