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County Executive Budget Proposal Cuts Deep

Sam Eaton
10/16/2001

After months of warnings that the proposed King County budget for 2002 would include some tough cuts, the ax has finally fallen. County Executive Ron Sims’ budget cuts deep into criminal justice and human service programs as he tries to close a 41 million dollar spending gap. KUOW’s Sam Eaton reports.

EXECUTIVE SIMS CALLS HIS PROPOSED BUDGET FOR 2002 BOTH DIFFICULT AND SEVERE DUE TO DISSAPPEARING REVENUES FROM THE SLOWING ECONOMY. FOR THAT REASON, HIS 2.9-BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET PROPOSAL IS RIFE WITH EMPLOYEE REDUCTIONS, DEPARTMENT CONSOLIDATIONS AND PROGRAM CUTS. HUMAN SERVICES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE TAKE THE HEAVIEST HITS. SIMS WANTS TO CUT DAYCARE SUBSIDIES, REDUCE SPENDING ON THE SHERIFF’S AND PROSECUTOR’S OFFICES AND STREAMLINE THE DISTRICT COURTS. HE SAYS BALANCING THOSE CUTS HAS BEEN A PAINFUL TASK AND ADMITS THAT SLASHING HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMS COULD COST MORE DOWN THE LINE. It just moves the problem over to another portion of our budget so there isn’t any long-term savings by continued cuts on human services. But at the same time we don’t want to create any insecurities in the public by cuts in public safety or public health, so we’ve moved very rapidly into a rock in a hard place. SIMS HAS ALSO ASKED FOR AN ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAX INCREASE TOTALLING 3-MILLION DOLLARS. THAT WOULD KEEP COUNTY EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ALSO ARMY RESERVISTS ON THE PAYROLL IF THEY ARE CALLED TO DUTY. SIMS IS CONFIDENT THE COUNTY COUNCIL WILL REACH A COMPROMISE ON THE BUDGET AND COUNCILMEMBERS IN GENERAL FEEL THE SAME. ROB MCKENNA WHO CHAIRS THE COUNCIL BUDGET COMMITTEE, SAYS THE TIME OF HEAVY TAX INCREASES IS OVER, AND THE EXECUTIVE’S PLAN REFLECTS THAT. Whether through our own choice or through the voter’s choice we will not be able to increase property taxes by 3 and 4 times the rate of inflation, and the executive to his credit is not proposing that we do so. MCKENNA SAYS A LOT OF WORK STILL REMAINS BEFORE AN AGREEMENT WILL BE REACHED. THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THE PROPOSED BUDGET BEGINS TONIGHT (TUE) AT ISSAQUAH HIGH SCHOOL. THE COUNCIL IS EXPECTED TO ADOPT THE BUDGET IN LATE NOVEMBER. SAM EATON, KUOW. 94.9, PUBLIC RADIO.

04.20.18

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