Last week King County voters approved Proposition No. 1 to impose a property tax levy for an emergency public safety radio replacement project.
Q13: King County Executive Dow Constantine issued a statement Tuesday night thanking King County voters for their 65-percent approval of funding for a new emergency radio network for first responders:
“A reliable emergency radio network is the lifeline that keeps all of our communities safe, used thousands of times a day by police, firefighters and medics in every corner of our county.
“I want to thank the voters of King County for acknowledging the need to replace a dangerously outdated system and ensuring that our first responders have the tools they need to communicate during life-threatening emergencies.”
The proposition was approved with only 24.60% voter turnout (291,561 ballots counted out of 1,185,271 registered voters). FYI: Homeownership rate in King County is 58.2%.
Apparently King County was so in need of money to upgrade the emergency radio network that they had no choice but to ask the voters to approve this tax increase for property owners. The Seattle Times wholeheartedly endorsed this tax increase: The levy would raise $246 million over nine years. Replacement of the current system would cost the owner of the median-priced King County property— $378,000 — about $26.46 annually for nine years. That’s a reasonable price to pay to save lives.
Of course we want to save lives, let’s vote to increase property taxes!
But guess what King County does have money for? Offering their employees 12 weeks of paid parental and family leave (which was approved on April 27th, a day before the special election):
“The Metropolitan King County Council today adopted a motion establishing a new county policy that working parents employed by King County will receive up to 12 weeks in paid parental leave after a birth, adoption, or new placement of a foster child.
“It is past time that the United States join the ranks of every single other developed nation in the world, and ensure that new moms and dads have an opportunity to bond with their child without sacrificing the very wages needed to support a family,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, author of the legislation. “Paid parental leave is not only the right thing to do for parents and kids, but as the private sector has demonstrated, it’s also fiscally responsible as it aids in recruitment and retention of valuable employees. As one of the top ten employers in the State of Washington, King County has an obligation to lead and be a model employer.”
From King County’s Vision and Strategic Plan:
Goals for what King County will do:
- Justice and Safety.
- Health and Human Potential.
- Economic Growth and Built Environment.
- Environmental Sustainability.
Goals for how County will do them:
- Service Excellence.
- Financial Stewardship. Exercise sound financial management and build King County’s long-term fiscal strength.
- Public Engagement.
- Quality Workforce. Develop and empower King County government’s most valuable asset, our employees.
I’m all for paid maternity leave, especially if a private corporation wants to be competitive. King County apparently believes they have a responsibility to be a model employer (which they do) yet can’t budget appropriately to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ monies.
As a King County homeowner (who no longer lives in the state so I can’t vote on the taxes that affect me personally) I must budget for capital expenditures. Why can’t King County do the same? Why do they believe offering paid maternity leave is more critical than updating an emergency radio system that will save lives?
Because they know voters will approve a vote to “save lives”. That’s why they didn’t take the vote to offer paid maternity leave to the voters.
And I have a message for King County: Your most valuable asset is the taxpayers for whom you have an obligation to use sound financial management with OUR money.
Rant over 🙂