Topic: King County Council
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November 18, 2013 at 6:02 PM
A struggling young adult shelter at YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center will likely stay open next year after the Seattle City Council’s budget committee voted unanimously Monday to grant the shelter $130,000. The full council is expected to vote on the budget next Monday.
The contribution more than matches the $120,000 in funding the Metropolitan King County Council approved last week for the shelter. Combined, the funds will make it possible for the 15-20 bed center to stay open at least five nights a week next year.
September 25, 2013 at 9:15 PM
Under new legislation, the King County Sheriff’s Office can impound vessels of people found to be operating boats out on the water while impaired.
The sheriff’s office got the authority after a measure sponsored by King County Council members Rod Dembowski and Reagan Dunn was unanimously approved this week, according to a sheriff’s office release.
Previously, deputies would have impaired boaters call a friend to come pick up their boats.
The legislation also allows deputies to impound drifting or unattended vessels found on during patrols in Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, Puget Sound and many of the lakes and rivers in King County.
“Those that operate boats while under the influence of drugs or alcohol present a serious threat to public safety,” King County Sheriff John Urquhart said in the release. “Councilmember Dembowski and Coucilmember Dunn’s ordinance gives our Marine Unit another tool to hold BUI (boating under the influence) offenders accountable and get our deputies back on the water as soon as possible. I thank them for their leadership on this issue.”
October 2, 2012 at 11:57 AM
The Metropolitan King County Council reviewed the city’s revised proposal for a new sports arena in Seattle this morning and is likely to vote on the deal this month.
Meeting as the budget committee, eight council members heard staff analysts describe the city changes, which were generally well-received, and asked questions. Bob Ferguson was the only absent council member.
Joe McDermott, chair of the budget committee, said Oct. 15 would be the earliest the full council would vote on the proposal to build a $490 million arena in Sodo for an NBA team, and possibly an NHL team.
The full council voted 6-3 to approve the deal in July. Two of the members who dissented then have said the city revisions have improved the proposal. Larry Phillips said the changes allayed most of his concerns. Pete von Reichbauer said he was optimistic more council members would vote for this version, which includes an independent, third-party review of the ownership group’s finances, principal investors and business plan.
At this morning’s meeting, council members raised three concerns. McDermott wants transportation improvements in Sodo to include pedestrian access, particularly to the light rail stations. Julia Patterson wants to make sure the deal does not put arena-related transportation improvements ahead of those that have long been waiting in line when it comes to the city or county seeking federal or state funds. And several council members wanted to know if alternative sites outside Seattle would be studied as part of the project’s environmental review. A staff lawyer said that is still to be determined.
September 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM
The Seattle City Council voted to approve an agreement with investor Chris Hansen to build a $490 million sports and entertainment arena in Sodo.
Council members praised the revised agreement as providing significant protections for the public’s $200 million contribution and providing a revenue stream to address transportation issues in Sodo and the future of KeyArena.
“This is about a can-do spirit looking to the future and grabbing an opportunity that has been presented to the city,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess.
The vote was 6-2, with Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Nick Licata voting no. Conlin said the taxes generated by private business should go to public needs, not a private enterprise such as a for-profit sports arena.
Licata said he didn’t want to support huge public subsidies for a private business that doesn’t provide measurable public benefit.
The complex financial agreement now goes to the King County Council for ratification. County Councilmember Bob Ferguson said: “Basketball and hockey fans in our region reason have reason to cheer today, with the Seattle City Council approving a revised MOU (memorandum of understanding), but the final buzzer hasn’t sounded yet. In order to move forward with the proposed arena, all three parties – City, County, and private investors – must reach a final unified agreement.”
In a prepared statement, Hansen praised Seattle’s elected officials for working diligently on the proposed deal: “I think that today’s vote demonstrates that by listening to each other and working hard to address the concerns of all stakeholders that we can make the arena a reality and bring professional basketball and hockey back to Seattle.” He acknowledged that there is still much more work to do.
August 29, 2012 at 7:24 PM
A flat rate for Seattle taxicab rides from the downtown hotel district to Sea-Tac Airport has increased from $32 to $40. The new fare took effect today.
The fare is based on the average taximeter fare from the middle of downtown to the airport, according to a city of Seattle news release. The law defines the downtown hotel district as the area between Broad Street, Mercer Street and Interstate 5 on the north, Elliott Bay on the west, South Dearborn Street on the south, and Boren Avenue to I-5 on the east.
Taxi trips from Sea-Tac are still charged by taximeter, though, because King County does not have a flat-rate taxi ride law, according to the release.
The Seattle City Council and Mayor Mike McGinn approved the increase in July. The city first instituted a flat rate tax in 2000 to reassure travelers that they would not be overcharged through an indirect route to the airport, according to a city release.
Taxi fares will likely increase throughout King County on Sept. 10 if the King County Council approves a taximeter rate increase on Sept. 4. If approved, the distance charge would increase fro m$2.50 to $2.70 per mile.
Seattle’s 688 licensed taxicabs are required to charge fares based upon the taximeter rate set by the city.
August 15, 2012 at 11:13 PM
From Staff Reporter Keith Ervin
The Port of Seattle Commission has agreed to sell much of the Eastside Rail Corridor to King County for future use as a trail.
The $15 million deal, approved by the commission Tuesday, still needs ratification by the Metropolitan King County Council.
After the Port bought the 42-mile Renton-to-Snohomish rail line from BNSF Railway in 2009 for $81 million, it sold some segments within King County to Redmond, Kirkland and Sound Transit, which also obtained rights to build a high-capacity passenger-rail line.
King County’s earlier $1.9 million payment for a trail easement will be credited toward the purchase price.
July 30, 2012 at 1:41 PM
UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: Council Chair Larry Gossett and Kathy Lambert say they’ll vote in favor of the arena deal, which seals the deal. The 6-3 vote was taken to applause from the audience.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Peter von Reichbauer says he’ll vote no. Joe McDermott indicates he will vote yes.
UPDATE 5:15 p.m.: Three Council Members — Julia Patterson, Bob Ferguson and Jane Hague — quickly declare their support, citing protections for taxpayers and the power of sports to bring people together.
Larry Phillips, who has been most skeptical along with Peter von Reichbauer, says sports is critically important to community, but the stewardship role of the council to protect the public purse and industrial lands also is important. He said he’ll vote no.
Reagan Dunn, also said he’ll vote no, saying he’s still hung up on the location and the Port of Seattle as an economic engine. He said he hopes the issues can be worked out.
UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Additional amendments have dealt with securing the rights to the Sonics name, offering reduced-price tickets, supporting the Seattle Storm and requiring an economic analysis. The discussion is continuing.
UPDATE 4:15 p.m.: Council members are now taking up amendments.
The first one, sponsored by Jane Hague, would insert a statement saying that, consistent with the King County Strategic Plan, the county “commits to working collaboratively with the Port of Seattle throughout the development and operation of the arena…”
The second amendment is related. Sponsored by Kathy Lambert, it commits the county and Port of Seattle to work together to obtain from the state a heavy haul corridor designation.
Both passed unanimously by voice vote. Additional amendments are being discussed.
UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: After two hours of testimony — that strayed at times to topics such as homelessness, emergency response and medical marijuana — the public comment period has ended and King County Council members are discussing the details of the Sodo arena agreement.
A vote will follow.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Metropolitan King County Council this afternoon is discussing the memorandum of understanding for the Sodo sports arena proposed by investor Chris Hansen. The council is expected to vote on the agreement after discussion.
The 10th floor chambers are packed, with many in the crowd wearing Sonics’ green and gold. There is space on the ninth floor for the overflow crowd.
Linda Styrk, managing director of the seaport for Port of Seattle, said “we think it’s too early to enter into binding agreement ”
Keith Weir, officer with the Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council, called the arena “a life saving opportunity for my members.”
If the King County Council approves an agreement with the city and private investors Monday, Seattle City Council President Sally Clark said that would not hurt the bargaining position of the city, which is trying to get more out of ongoing negotiations with Hansen.
“The city is now in the lead in negotiating,” Clark said.
Earlier today, about a dozen union, shipping, business and environmental advocates gathered to reiterate concerns about the proposal’s impact on maritime industry jobs.
We’ll have updates here throughout the discussion.
July 30, 2012 at 11:28 AM
The Seattle City Council today said the city must get a share of the projected arena tax revenue as well as as additional financial guarantees before it can agree to build a new arena in Sodo.
A letter to arena investor Chris Hansen this morning said a majority of council members don’t think the proposed arena deal represents “an appropriate balance of public and private benefits, nor [does it] sufficiently protect the City from the financial risks inherent in the arena’s financing”
“In order to move forward, we will need to arrive at a more equitable arrangement,” it says.
The letter comes as the King County Council is poised to vote this afternoon on a memorandum of understanding to build the $490 million arena in Sodo with $200 million in public financing. The county council is expected to approve the agreement, which would commit the county to up to $80 million in funding.
The Seattle City Council letter to Hansen says members “appreciate your willingness to significantly invest in our city and, like you, we look forward to the return of the SuperSonics.”
At a lunchtime news conference, council members said they were confident that a compromise would be struck with Hansen, perhaps within the week.
“We’re saying we want to get to yes. I think we can work out these details,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess.
The letter continues that construction of an arena could be a catalyst for improvements to the stadium district, but that it also should provide “further protections of our vital maritime and industrial job sectors.”
Specifically, the City Council questions the current deal, which provides that 100 percent of the taxes generated by the arena go to pay off the city and county bonds. The letter said that’s not an appropriate balance between private and public benefit, “particularly not when the project will create impacts that Seattle taxpayers will be forced to address with other public resources.”
The letter says the city must be in a first lien position with respect to other creditors. The current MOU said that position will be negotiated when private financing is sought and critics have said banks are unlikely to allow the city to hold first place, but that a shared first place might be possible.
The city also is asking that the written agreement include the amount of equity Hansen and his investment group put into arena construction and team operations. It also asks for independent verification of financial performance targets.
The letter concludes, “If these issues can be resolved, we are prepared to quickly move forward a legislative package that is more financially balanced and strengthens protections for the City and its residents.” It is signed by eight council members; Bruce Harrell did not sign.
July 24, 2012 at 9:13 AM
A report taking a critical look at the way internal investigations are handled inside the King County Sheriff’s Office is expected to be released this morning by the Metropolitan King County Council.
The 69-page audit conducted by a Chicago security management consulting firm, makes eight findings and 18 recommendations on ways the department can improve policies and provide law enforcement oversight, according to a source who has read the audit. The audit recommends that oversight continue through King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, or OLEO.
The most glaring finding is that “the single greatest deficit is that the sheriff’s office that over time it has developed a passive and reactive approach to the way it receives, manages and investigates internal affairs complaints,” according to the source.
In 2006, the council approved the creation of the OLEO, to monitor internal investigations of allegations of misconduct by deputies. The issue of civilian oversight has been controversial among deputies and something later negotiated with the deputies union. The issue was brought to the bargaining table with the union and new terms for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight were created in 2009.
In October 2011, Charles Gaither was appointed as the director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight.
In 2009, the county council directed the King County Auditor’s Office to create a permanent auditing process focusing on sheriff’s office Internal Investigation Unit. Hillard and Heintze, the Chicago-based law enforcement consulting firm, were hired to conduct the audit, which is expected to be released this morning.
This post will be updated when the report is released.
January 9, 2012 at 4:29 PM
The Metropolitan King County Council members voted unanimously today to trim their annual pay increases from 3 percent to 3 percent or 90 percent of the local inflation rate, whichever is less.
Council members’ salaries this year are $135,525. The vast majority of county employees will get pay raises this year of 1.6 percent, which is 90 percent of the inflation rate.
The council’s action was intended to match employees’ concessions. There was no debate on the measure today. “This is about leadership, fairness and equality,” said primary sponsor Joe McDermott.
The state constitution prohibits elected officials from altering their own pay during their current terms. Because council members’ four-year terms are staggered, McDermott’s plan would affect five council members in 2014 and the remaining four in 2016.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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