King county budget includes money for Senior Center, RADAR, Center for Human Services, and a Kenmore water taxi

Friday, November 20, 2020

Rod Dembowski, King County Council
Budget committee vice-chair

King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget that invests with purpose in housing, anti-racist policies, programs for the vulnerable, community engagement

At a time of immense division across the political and social spectrum, the King County Council again demonstrated its ability to come together to invest in the region’s future with the passage of a landmark $12.59 billion budget for the next two years.

With funding for anti-racist programs, transformation of the criminal legal system, public health and major investment in regional supportive housing, the council’s 2021-22 biennial budget responds to the needs of residents across King County as well as to building back our economy for the future.

“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."

Investments against racism

The approved budget represents major investments against historical racism and oppression, including around the criminal legal system. The Council approved proposals to shift $4.6 million in marijuana excise tax revenue away from law enforcement and toward community-based programs that support reversing some of the disproportionate damage the war on drugs placed on Black communities.

Building on that, the Council also added requirements in the budget for Metro to reimagine its transit police duties and operations and to report on the future of fare collection, all with an eye toward making transit more equitable and accessible to all.

Beyond funding the Restorative Community Pathways diversion program with more than $6 million that will provide comprehensive, community-based services to 800 young people in lieu of filing criminal charges, the Council also added a requirement that $1.5 million be used to build capacity at community-based organizations involved in work related to the restorative community pathways diversion program.

While the budget did push for transformation of law enforcement and the criminal legal system, it also continued to invest in policies that help keep communities safe, including adding $1.2 million and four full-time employees to support expansion of electronic home monitoring to 24/7.

Additionally, the Council approved as part of the budget $500,000 to fund pre-apprenticeship programs in two South King County school districts to help better prepare students entering high-paying trades and technical careers through apprenticeship training. This funding is included as part of the county’s priority hire program.

King County Council Budget Vice Chair Rod Dembowski:
"As Vice-chair of the budget committee it's been an honor to work with our budget Chair, Councilmember Kohl-Welles, to put this 2021-22 biennial budget together. 
"This budget reflects our values: responding to the pandemic by fully funding public health and supporting impacted residents. It advances reforms to our criminal legal system, continues our work to make transit accessible for all, and makes critical investments in environmental protection and climate change work. 
"It's balanced, responsible, reflective of King County's values and responsive to its needs."

Select Shoreline Investments in King County’s 2021-2022 Biennial Budget:

  • $500,000 for transit-oriented development affordable housing projects located in North King County, which may include areas at or near the Shoreline Park and Ride and the Kenmore Park and Ride sites
  • $50,000 to the Center for Human Services for their work to serve North King County residents
  • $115,000 to the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center to support the center’s work serving North King County Seniors
  • $780,000 for the Response, Awareness, De-escalation and Referral (RADAR) program, which helps build a bridge between law enforcement and mental health services
Housing and support for those who need it

Included in the budget is a small sales tax increase that will allow the county to create permanent supportive housing for up to 2,000 people suffering from chronic homelessness. The approved measure will use bonding against proceeds from a 0.1% sales tax increase generating $340 million to purchase disused existing hotels, motels, and nursing homes to provide housing quickly for those who need it most.

Additionally, the approved budget invests in community engagement and support programs, including $1 million for a White Center Community HUB project, $1.65 million to extend the Public Defenders Association’s JustCARES program that provides emergency housing and support services for individuals suffering from chronic homelessness in Pioneer Square and Chinatown/International District with planning to take place to expand the program to Ballard Commons, Lake City, West Seattle Junction and other urban villages. The budget also includes $2 million to support MIDD behavioral health and recovery programs reduced by the loss of sales tax revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Equitable access and ensuring the future of transit

With Metro facing a $200 million shortfall in expected sales tax revenue, the Council-approved budget helps ensure that transit continues to provide its vital services across the county and works to improve access for all.

Funding included in the budget will support expansion of youth ORCA card distribution and transit education in schools, planning for restart of RapidRide lines, updates to Access paratransit, a study on the feasibility of transit-oriented development at the Shoreline Park and Ride, and much more.

Additionally, $500,000 is included to begin planning for previously studied water taxi routes from Kenmore and Shilshole (Ballard).


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