Dec. 19, 2011
Partnerships and reforms help build record of accomplishment in King County Executive’s first two years in office
Dec. 21 is midpoint of current four-year term
The precise midpoint for the current four-year term of King County Executive Dow Constantine is Wednesday, December 21 - and with the County back on sound financial footing, the Executive took stock of the achievements of his first two years in office.
"The common theme of many of our accomplishments is partnership - finding a way for people to work together who maybe didn't work so well together before," said Executive Constantine.
Constantine took office with a reform agenda that promised to develop a culture of performance that changes the way King County does business; embrace new ideas to bring reform to County government; forge innovative partnerships; and provide the infrastructure for transportation that is critical to building prosperity and competing for aerospace and other family-wage jobs.
Two years into the current term, Constantine cited among the accomplishments of his administration:
King County is back on sound financial footing, through performance-based management that is reducing growth in the cost of government and leading to budgets that are sustainable and live within means.
Employees are creating efficiencies - including driving down growth in health care costs by $61 million over two years - that enable the County to provide the same level of services at 3 percent less cost.
- Nine of every ten employees partnered with the County to waive part of their pay to save services and jobs.
- In partnership with private business, the County is investing in the practice of continuous improvement and employee engagement known as Lean.
Open and collaborative working relationships with countywide officials that led to Council adoption of the County budget one week early last year, and nearly two weeks early this year.
Construction is underway on a new South Park Bridge, replacing an unsafe structure that had no plan for financing.
Critical repairs to the ailing Howard Hanson Dam will restore long-term flood protection for the Green River Valley, thanks to federal funding secured in collaboration with valley mayors and the state's Congressional delegation.
- Seattle and Northeast cities have been spared the cost and turmoil of building a new jail, by extending a regional jail contract and guaranteeing them bed space.
Protection for the longest remaining stretch of undeveloped Puget Sound shoreline in King County is guaranteed by acquiring 250 acres of open space on Maury Island - including habitat that supports threatened and endangered chinook, orca and bull trout - and ending a 13-year struggle over expansion of a sand and gravel mine there.
- The region has finally ended the arbitrary political divisions that governed the provision of bus service, and is now following a new transit strategic plan that allocates service equitably and efficiently.
- Mobilization of the public and business community helped avert 600,000 hours of cuts to bus service and save Metro service for the next two years, so that work can proceed on a statewide transportation solution for both roads and transit.
A new regional model for animal services has won the participation of 27 cities, turned around the operation, and brought down the rate of animal euthanasia from 40 percent to 14 percent.
A new fixed-fee model for building permits, replacing hourly rates, has brought new transparency and predictability to the permitting process, along with creation of a customer service unit for rural property owners.
The switch has been flipped on operation of the Brightwater treatment plant - the most extraordinary regional investment in clean water in a generation - and mining was completed on a 13-mile conveyance tunnel, after the Executive made the tough decision to switch contractors to keep the project on track and save money.
- Through a new County energy policy and dozens of new energy efficiency projects, greenhouse-gas emissions are being curtailed, creating operational savings of more than $2 million a year, along with nearly $4 million dollars in incentive payments from local utilities and federal grants in support of these projects.
Opportunities are increased for small and historically disadvantaged businesses by creating a small-works roster to speed up contracting on small construction projects, and by joining with the Port of Seattle and other agencies to create shared standards for certification of small contractors and suppliers.
Creation of a new King County Aerospace Alliance will support construction of the Boeing 737 MAX and the local supply chain, promote workforce development, and help retain thousands of family-wage jobs in aerospace design, construction, and assembly.
Brokering an innovative solution to provide parking ended a years-long logjam on sale of the Kingdome North Lot property for mixed-use development and affordable housing, creating up to 2,700 construction jobs and generating more than $727 million in needed economic activity.
- Integration of fairness and opportunity for all people into every aspect of County operations.
"We are not doing this alone," said Executive Constantine. "Everyone has banded together in the spirit of serving the public - our employees, the County Council, countywide elected officials past and present, our partners in other jurisdictions, and civic-minded residents. Everyone has contributed to this progress. I look forward to more in the coming year."
Constantine was elected King County Executive in 2009, but was sworn into office early, on Nov. 24, 2009, due to the vacancy created by the appointment of Executive Ron Sims to the Obama Administration.
Executive Constantine will outline his agenda and goals for the coming year in his 2012 State of the County address, scheduled for February 6, 2012.