No big bad news in Constantine budget proposal

Mon, Sep 23, 2013

King County Executive Dow Constantine doesn’t have the money for big, exciting initiatives in the 2014 budget he will present Monday.

But it is largely a budget devoid of bad news, with no significant layoffs for the first time in six years. It also restores some cuts the county made during the worst years of the economic downturn. Constantine proposes reopening the Maple Valley Precinct of the King County Sheriff’s Office and restoring lunchtime hours at county courthouses.

The proposed 2014 budget is 4 percent bigger than this year’s, returning the general fund to what it was in 2008 after several years of decline.

In addition to fees it collects for services, the county relies on sales and property taxes for most of its general-fund money. Both types of taxes took sharp dives during the economic downturn. This year, the money is rebounding. But while across the street Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is proposing a series of feel-good initiatives in his budget, Constantine’s budget is subdued.

His 11 a.m. budget speech to the Metropolitan King County Council will highlight how parts of the county have saved money by finding more efficient ways to do business, a program called Lean Management.

The budget acknowledges that the county’s revenue is not keeping up with expected costs in the long term. That means the county will have to keep making cuts or find new sources of money in coming years.

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