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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Executive urges completion of major infrastructure to help position the region for economic recovery


King County Executive Dow Constantine today said continuing reforms to King County government and attention in the coming year to the infrastructure provided by government will help set a foundation for economic recovery and sustainable prosperity for the region as a whole.


Picture of the State of the County Speech

King County Executive Dow Constantine today said continuing reforms to King County government and attention to the infrastructure provided by government will help set a foundation in the coming year for economic recovery and sustainable prosperity for the region as a whole.

“Our job this year is to build prosperity and get people back to work,” said Executive Constantine. “Our work must position our region to prosper, and to ensure that everyone can participate in the recovery to come.”

In delivering his 2011 “State of the County” address in Kent to a special committee meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council, the Executive pointed to the regional coalition that secured funding for essential repairs to the Howard Hanson Dam, as an example of the power of partnerships that led to many of the successes of his administration in its first year in office.

Thanks to repairs to the dam underway, the Executive announced that the County can now move the headquarters of King County Elections back to its state-of-the-art facility in Renton in June, “casting a vote of confidence in the future” of the Green River Valley as an economic engine for the region.

The Executive urged completion of regional projects that will create construction jobs now and infrastructure for the decades ahead, including construction of a replacement South Park Bridge, construction of the deep-bore tunnel for the Alaskan Way / Highway 99 corridor, replacement of the 520 floating bridge, completion of the voter-approved expansion of Sound Transit Link light rail, and expansion of the Washington State Convention Center.

“Investments in our infrastructure – both physical and social – provide the conditions businesses need in making decisions to locate or to remain here, or to grow here. This prosperity in turn generates the revenue that enables us to invest in those things we all value,” said the Executive.

“Our region has the can-do history of investment and innovation. In the coming year, our generation can refocus on the responsibility of creating jobs now while investing in the future of our children,” he added.

The Executive outlined three additional strategies to support the development of small businesses:

  • Creation of a new $1.4 million revolving loan fund for small businesses within the cities participating in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) consortium, in partnership with the Grow America Fund. Dubbed the “Grow King County Fund,” the fund is capitalized with $350,000 of federal CDBG dollars that can be leveraged into a revolving fund to help small businesses expand and create jobs while paying back the initial investment.
  • Creation of a one-stop, streamlined service for certifying small contractors with both the County and the Port of Seattle – one common standard, one common application, and one common online directory – with the potential to expand and include other public agencies.
  • Creation of a new Executive’s Small Business Award Program – in partnership with enterprise Seattle, the Workforce Development Council, and the Small Business Partners for Prosperity – to recognize and celebrate entrepreneurs who are achieving excellence and success, and who are putting people back to work.

The Executive announced transmittal today of two pieces of legislation to the County Council:

  • A Transit Strategic Plan that sets guidelines for appropriate levels of service so that buses can carry more people more productively, while respecting the social and geographic diversity of the county, and
  • An implementation plan for his 2012 update of the King County Comprehensive Plan that will define the scope and nature of services the County will provide as it transitions to being a provider of regional and rural services, and how it can become more responsive and accountable to residents of the unincorporated areas.

Among other initiatives the Executive outlined for the coming year:

  • Piloting of a new approach to budgeting and management that defines the products and services County agencies deliver, calculates the cost, and measures the quantity – and the quality – of what’s produced.
  • Working collaboratively with Seattle, the Port, and The Boeing Company on early cleanup actions in the Lower Duwamish Waterway, a vital manufacturing and industrial center that is home to some of the nation’s leading-edge new, green industries but which also carries the legacy of the last century’s industrial use as a Superfund site.
  • Transmittal of a plan later this year for the transition of the Roads Services Division to a provider of rural roads, a plan that will address an aging infrastructure of roads that lacks stable funding.
  • Taking the unusual step of transmitting a one-year Solid Waste disposal rate that will give cities and the County time to work in partnership on long-term commitments for investments in new facilities that increase operational efficiency and are better for the environment, while keeping down the cost of garbage disposal for ratepayers.
  • Taking stock five years into the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness to determine what’s worked best and what can still be done better.
  • Transmittal of a proposal to place renewal of the Veterans and Human Services Levy on the ballot this year.

Among the successes of his first year in office, the Executive cited:

  • Funding to replace the South Park Bridge, rebuilding a vital manufacturing and industrial link, re-connecting working family neighborhoods, and restoring salmon habitat,
  • Funding for well-designed, long-term repairs to the Howard Hanson Dam,
  • A balanced budget that resets expenses, restores public confidence, and positions the County for future success,
  • A new regional model for animal services that is providing more humane and effective care and control,
  • A new collaboration with cities to manage jail population across the region, sparing neighborhoods the turmoil of siting a jail and avoiding the cost of building a new one, and
  • Preservation of the longest remaining stretch of undeveloped Puget Sound shoreline in King County.

The Executive cited a report issued earlier this month by the Municipal League of King County’s and the Municipal League Foundation. Titled “County Reform – The First Year,” the report applauded the Executive’s implementation of performance-based management, a new cadre of change leaders, a customer-focused culture, strengthened relations with labor, and major process improvements at the Department of Development and Environmental Services and at Metro.

“They questioned only whether we can sustain the sense of urgency, whether we can make this new thinking permeate all parts of County government,” noted the Executive. “Well, I challenge all of us to prove this year that yes, we can.”

The Executive spoke at a special meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Committee of the Whole held in third-floor rotunda of the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. His speech will be rebroadcast on King County TV at the following times:

Monday, February 28 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 1 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 2 9:30 p.m.
Friday, March 4 10:00 p.m.

For additional viewing opportunities, check the King County TV online schedule at:

Related information

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography