Revenue shortfall shakes up city finances

August 13, 2009

Cuts made, general reserve fund raided

By Tim Pfarr
Newcastle Director of Finance Christine Olson is predicting the city will collect $496,197 less in revenue than expected this year. She also predicted city officials will spend $78,000 on items they had not budgeted for this year.
To account for these changes in revenue and expenditures, the city has cut about $477,000 worth of items from its 2009 operating budget, and officials anticipate they will draw a total of about $229,000 from its general fund reserve by the end of the year.
Items the city has cut from the 2009 budget range from funds for office supplies and City Council retreats to funds for sales tax audits and some funds for landscape maintenance.
Olson predicted early in the year that the city would bring in less money than it would spend, and the city then began making cuts to expenses in the second quarter. There have been three rounds of cuts.
“A budget at this level means if something breaks we put ‘broken’ on it and wait until we can afford to repair it,” said John Starbard, city manager.
The city’s general fund reserve is made up of unused funds from previous years. Prior to 2009, its balance was slightly more than $2 million.
Initially, the city planned to take a $97,035 draw from the general reserve fund in 2009.
“We’re still making quite a draw for what we budgeted,” Councilwoman Jean Garber said about the predicted change in the general fund reserve draw.
However, Olson said the city’s history of being conservative with its budget has helped tremendously during this tough economic time.
“For a small city, we’ve got a great reserve,” she said.
In the first round of cuts, $5,000 for printing expenses was cut, as was $20,000 that had been allocated to updating the city’s development plan. Also, a vacant city engineer position was frozen. A total of $305,000 in expenses was removed from the budget during the first round of cuts.
In the second round of cuts, funds for sales tax audits, computer hardware, temporary staff, training and office supplies were cut, as were many other funds. A total of $79,000 in expenses was cut from the budget during the second round.
During the second round, Starbard commented on the current state of the city in the midst of the cuts.
“The city we’re becoming is impoverished,” Starbard said. “We’re getting less and less able to fund other services.”
In the third round of cuts, the city reduced its state and federal lobbyist contract and cut some of its landscape maintenance funds.
Council members voiced concerns about several of the proposed cuts in the third round, including cuts to emergency funding, which were ultimately not made, and cuts to landscape maintenance.
“It’s pretty basic that we provide safety to our residents,” Garber said about cutting the 2009 emergency funding.
Several council members voiced concerns about the cuts to landscape maintenance, so those funds will only be partially cut. City officials are still discussing the amount of landscape maintenance funds that will be cut from the budget. These cuts will involve reduction in mowing and watering lawns.
Olson said that if the city had not made any cuts, officials would need to draw more than $700,000 from its general fund reserve.
She also said that while the most recent cuts may help solve the problem for 2009, the 2010 budget is a completely different issue.
“Costs are going up, but it doesn’t look good for revenue at all,” she said.
Olson will begin work on the 2010 budget this month.
Newcastle’s revenue comes from three primary sources: sales tax, property tax and fees from development.
Property tax is in accordance with its projected amount, but sales tax is down 20 percent from what officials projected. The lack of sales tax revenue is due to a decline in individual spending and the lack of development in the city, as the city takes in tax revenue from construction projects.
In terms of development, the city has only received two building permit applications during the first seven months of this year. Development has been in decline during the past two years; in 2007, the city had received 67 building permit applications by the end of July. In 2008, the number of applications received through July dropped to 15.

Newcastle Director of Finance Christine Olson is predicting the city will collect $496,197 less in revenue than expected this year. She also predicted city officials will Read more

Community marks parkway completion with ribbon cutting

August 13, 2009

By David Hayes
Gary Cole has lived on May Valley Road for the past 45 years. He recalls vividly the hazard that walking down the street was to cross May Creek Bridge.
“There used to be 10 or 11 inches to walk across on the old access,” he said. “A passing semi was a real danger to a person walking across.”
Cole and dozens of other locals and dignitaries celebrated a ribbon cutting mid-span of the new 290-foot May Creek Bridge July 16 that made those hazards a thing of the past. City residents like Cole can now enjoy an additional four feet on each side for pedestrians to safely cross the creek.
The occasion marked the official opening of the bridge and the completion of Phases 2 and 3 of the Coal Creek Parkway expansion project.
Mayor Ben Varon said it was a day 15 years in the making.
“This was a vision, since the city incorporated in 1984, to expand Coal Creek Parkway,” Varon told an assembled crowd of about 125 sitting mid-span of the May Creek Bridge. “This has been a labor of love that benefits both the citizens of Newcastle and those throughout the region.”
The improvements of Coal Creek Parkway in Newcastle involved widening one mile of Coal Creek Parkway between Southeast 84th Way and Southeast 95th Way/City limits and included replacing the May Creek Bridge.
The project involved two construction contracts: Phase 2, which extends from Southeast 84th Way to Southeast 91st Street, and Phase 3, which extends from Southeast 91st Street to Southeast 95th Way. These projects extend the Phase 1 improvements recently constructed between Newcastle Way and Southeast 84th Way.
The net cost of Phase 2 and 3 was $44 million, with the city being responsible for $3.4 million. After delays in securing funding, designing and acquiring the land, Doug Alder, city communications manager, said the project still came in on time and under budget.
Even the cost for the ribbon-cutting ceremony came under scrutiny, with the city budgeting $5,000. Greg Alder, city communications manager, said thanks to community members donating chairs, printing services, awards and their time, the cost for the ceremony was nearly cut in half to $2,800.
While traffic was allowed to trickle past the area throughout construction, Alder said Thursday was the first day that all four lanes were finally open on the parkway and on the bridge.
“It’s fabulous,” said Dennis Alexander, an 18-year resident of Coal Creek Parkway, who attended the ceremony with his wife Jann. “What an amazing difference. This has gone from a country road to a main arterial. It’s a relief that it’s over and we’re done with detours.”
The day culminated with the entire City Council participating with Varon in cutting the ribbon.
With the project now complete, the arterial provides commuters with a route parallel to Interstate 405 all the way from Renton to Bellevue.
Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

Gary Cole has lived on May Valley Road for the past 45 years. He recalls vividly the hazard that walking down Read more

Newcastle has grown 28 percent since 2000

August 13, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Fueled by a housing boom, Newcastle added more than 2,000 residents since the start of the decade. Now, as the burgeoning bedroom community looks toward a second decade of growth, city officials said the next phase would be more measured, with a focus on bringing more jobs to Newcastle.
Figures released in late June by the state Office of Financial Management show the city’s April 2009 population at 9,925. In April 2000, Newcastle was home to 7,737 people. State officials use the population data to determine how dollars will be allotted to municipalities.
Newcastle grew by 43 percent during the time period, the result of residents flocking to the Eastside city for new housing. Unlike other Eastside cities that expanded limits — and populations — through annexation, Newcastle grew entirely as a result of an influx of residents.
Ensuing population growth made the city the 43rd fastest growing in Washington. Yet, the growth still caused Newcastle to outpace expectations.
“We’re small, so percentage-wise, it wasn’t huge, but it was significant,” city Community Development Director Steve Roberge said.
Roberge said regional planners set 20-year growth targets for Newcastle in 2002. Planners predicted the city would add about 700 households and 500 jobs by 2022. Roberge said the city easily met the jobs target and had closed in on the household target as well.
Newcastle is the 75th largest city in the state; the city ranked 81st in 2000. Seattle, with 602,000 residents, remains Washington’s largest city.
Snoqualmie — the fastest growing city — ballooned by 8,099 residents during the first year of the decade to 9,730 people today.
When state officials released the population figures, they noted how the recession would impact Evergreen State population growth.
“The continued housing contraction nationwide and poor economic conditions appear to be limiting the mobility of the population usually influenced by labor market opportunities,” Theresa Lowe, the state’s chief demographer, said in a news release. “Many job seekers are finding it difficult to sell their homes or to relocate to accept employment at the price of paying two mortgages for an extended period.”
Roberge and city Communications Manager Doug Alder said city officials and staffers were taking steps to position the city for growth once the recession turns to recovery. Alder said attracting new businesses to Newcastle is key to the next phase of growth.
Planners are exploring ways to remake the downtown into a pedestrian-friendly urban village.
“We’re going to be in a better position when the economy fully turns around,” Alder said.
Newcastle was buoyed last month when Money magazine listed the city at No. 17 in the Best Places to Live 2009 issue. Newcastle was lauded for its proximity to major employers Boeing and Microsoft. The magazine also noted the favorable real estate market.
“Homebuyers can find properties at a great variety of prices, from $350,000 3-bedroom, 2-car-garage ramblers to brand-new $6 million estates,” the magazine said.
Roberge and Alder said another part of Newcastle’s prestige relates to the 350-acre Golf Club at Newcastle.
Roberge said the city could add about 1,200 additional households, a roughly 50-50 mix of single-family homes and multifamily units. Newcastle also has the capacity to add about 875 more jobs, though creating space for new employers would probably require more dense redevelopment, Roberge said.
Growth by way of annexation is bound to be limited, however. Property that could someday be annexed into the city consists of a small, six-acre parcel along the north side of Southeast May Valley Road near 148th Avenue Southeast.
Roberge said although housing construction was slowed by the recession, potential residents and developers remain interested in the city.
“There’s going to be growth,” he said. “We know that, we understand that.”
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

Fueled by a housing boom, Newcastle added more than 2,000 residents since the start of the decade. Now, as the burgeoning bedroom community Read more

City named a top place to live

August 13, 2009

By Tim Pfarr
Newcastle came in at No. 17 in CNN and Money Magazine’s 2009 list of the top-100 small towns in which to live in the nation.
The annual list takes school quality, home price, number of job opportunities, crime rate and other factors into consideration to determine what cities make the cut.
Newcastle’s description on the list recognizes The Golf Club at Newcastle as well as the city’s proximity to the facilities of Boeing and Microsoft as positive aspects of the town.
“I think it’s tremendous to get national recognition for something we already know, and that is that Newcastle is a tremendous place to live,” said John Starbard, city manager.
Newcastle Deputy Mayor Dan Hubbell said he was pleased as well.
“These are the sorts of surveys I read growing up,” he said, adding that he was happy the city was discovered in the nationwide search.
The list, which included cities with populations between 8,500 and 50,000, included four other Washington cities as well: Mukilteo (No. 10), Sammamish (No. 12), Richland (No. 51) and Silverdale (No. 92).
Newcastle residents were excited to hear the news, and many expressed positive feelings toward the city. Michelle Mix, who has lived in Newcastle for five years, was one who said she loves living here.
“Everything’s close to where I live,” she said, adding that she enjoys how the closeness allows her to walk to places instead of drive.
“Everything I need is convenient and accessible,” she said.
Resident Maddison Small, 17, said she also enjoys living in Newcastle.
“I really like it,” she said, “except for the construction.”
Reach Reporter Tim Pfarr at 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

Newcastle came in at No. 17 in CNN and Money Magazine’s 2009 list of the top-100 small towns in which Read more

Hazen teacher uses school defibrillator to save a life

August 13, 2009

By Laura Geggel
Some quick thinking and a defibrillator saved the life of Hazen High School’s soon-to-be sophomore Henry Flores.
On the afternoon of June 17, physical education teacher James Landsverk asked his students to run one mile in laps around the track. During his second lap, Flores collapsed and did not respond when nearby classmates called out his name.
Landsverk rushed to his student and immediately noted Flores’ eyes had rolled back into his head. Flores was gasping but unable to breathe.
Landsverk took control of the situation. He began administering CPR and ordered three students to help, directing one to call 911, another to retrieve one of the school’s 38 automated external defibrillators located near the pool and the last to find the school nurse.
Using the defibrillator, Landsverk shocked Flores’ heart back into a regular rhythm before resuming CPR. The teacher had received defibrillator training in September 2008 from the Renton Fire Department and knew how to follow its instructions. Using audio and visual prompts, the defibrillator told Landsverk how to attach the adhesive electrode pads to Flores’ chest so the machine could determine whether a heart rhythm was present. The charge from the defibrillator likely restarted Flores’ heart.
Meanwhile, the student running to get school nurse Celeste Dillard found her in her office. Dillard didn’t know why Flores had collapsed, so she grabbed an EpiPen, radio and medical basket.
“I ran down the hallway, past the office on purpose,” Dillard said. “I said, ‘Guys, there’s something happening down on the field. Turn your radios on.’”
Dillard had to run across not only half of the school but also the entire football field, because Flores had collapsed on the south side, away from the main entrance. She took over CPR until the ambulance arrived.
Within minutes, aid personnel were on scene and able to get Flores to breathe on his own.
“At that point, I go into a different mode,” Dillard said. “We have a parent to call, we have distraught students, a distraught teacher and three kids who were standing there.”
School staff ushered students into the gym, where counselors and the school psychologist were waiting for them.
“We gave a quick heads up to the students,” Dillard said. “We said, ‘He’s in good hands now. He’s alive. We’ll give you more information.’”
Two chaplains affiliated with the emergency medical service also spoke with students.
Former McKnight Middle School Vice Principal Anita Jose, who will be working at Hazen this year, knew Flores’ younger siblings and took on the role of contacting his family. Jose called in a Spanish interpreter and communicated to Flores’ family that he was being taken to the intensive care unit at Seattle Children’s.
Dillard then transitioned into the role of liaison between the Flores family and the Renton School District. She and others at Hazen and McKnight raised funds for the family June 23, the last day of school. Knowing how hectic it can be to cook when a loved one is in the hospital, Dillard used the fundraising money to buy the family a $300 Safeway gift certificate.
Hazen students also made a large “get well” banner for Flores to hang in his hospital room.
“When he was waking up, he was able to see the sign,” Dillard said. “His mom liked it, too.”
When Dillard called him a few days later, she was able to talk to Flores himself. He had no prior health condition known to the school and had made the mile-long run before with no problem. Flores is now out of the hospital, but he could not be reached for comment.
Landsverk, who worked in the Renton School District for two years as a physical education teacher and assistant football coach, has since moved to Texas.
“I really just reacted and began doing what I’ve been trained to do,” Landsverk said in a press release. “I wanted Henry to be OK.”
Looking back on the incident, Dillard noted it was lucky she was in her office when the student runner found her.
“The way they usually get a hold of me is they get a runner,” she said. “I wish there was better communication. Maybe this is an opportunity to look at that.”
Still, she praised Landsverk and his students for saving Flores’ life.
“It definitely takes teamwork,” she said. “No one person can stand alone, you must be team oriented.”
Reach Reporter Laura Geggel at lgeggel@snovalleystar.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

Some quick thinking and a defibrillator saved the life of Hazen High School’s soon-to-be sophomore Henry Flores.

On the afternoon Read more

City debates possible temporary skate park

August 13, 2009

By Tim Pfarr
The Newcastle Parks Commission held an open house July 14 to discuss potentially installing a temporary skate park on Renton Academy property at some point in the next several years.
City officials stressed that at the moment, the park — which would be located at the southeast corner of the intersection of 116th Street and Newcastle Way — is strictly an idea. No decisions have been made, nor have any funds been set aside for the potential project.
City Communications Manager Doug Alder and Parks Program Manager Michael Holly led the discussion and answered questions from community members and individuals from the skating community. Parks Commission member and Kent Risk Manager Christopher Hills was also in attendance to give his advice, as the city of Kent has three skate parks of its own.
Holly said the Parks Commission’s first choice for the location of the skate park was Lake Boren Park, but it was turned down due to its lack of visibility. The second choice was the Renton Academy location. The park would be open from dawn until dusk.
Opinions were split among attendees, and primary concerns regarded the park’s location, cost, aesthetics, security and liability. Some were also concerned that the park would be noisy when in use, as several attendees attested to the fact that temporary skate parks are noisier than permanent ones, which are often made of concrete.
Resident Molly Sandvick said one of her primary concerns is the aesthetics of the potential park.
Resident Robert Sloan said he is concerned with the cost of the park, as well as the possibly rowdy nonskating crowd it could attract from elsewhere. He said he was not at all concerned with Newcastle’s skating community, as he described the Newcastle skateboarders as good kids. He said that a skate park in Newcastle could be great under the right circumstances.
Several other city officials attended the open house.
“I know the arguments for and against every location,” said Councilman Steve Buri, who said he does not believe Renton Academy is the right place for the park, because the distance between the park and neighboring homes could be as little as 175 feet.
“I am concerned about disruptions in those neighborhoods,” he said.
He said other locations — such as the proposed Lake Boren Park location — better lend themselves to a skate park.
Diane Lewis, member of the Parks Commission, said she supports the park, comparing the facilities offered to young children to those offered to teens.
“We don’t do anything for our teenagers, and we need to keep them busy in safe places,” she said.
A group of teenagers with skateboards attended the meeting to support the skate park.
“We need a skate park,” said Mason Buregel, 15, member of the Newcastle skating community. “I see more kids doing drugs behind schools than in skate parks.”
One attendee voiced concerns about potential noise disturbances that could come from early morning skaters if the park were to open at dawn. However, Buregel quickly responded with, “the average skater doesn’t get up until noon.”
City officials said further public discussion is likely in the future.
Reach Reporter Tim Pfarr at 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

The Newcastle Parks Commission held an open house July 14 to discuss potentially installing Read more

City moves closer to new sign code

August 13, 2009

By David Hayes
The Planning Commission approved a final draft to update the city’s sign code July 17, moving closer to the end of a process in the works since 2006.
Essentially, the sign code determines the number, size, type and location guidelines for residences and businesses within the city limits.
“We’ve worked really hard, to get it this far,” said Steve Roberge, community development director.
The latest approval came with minimal input from a public hearing July 16. Roberge said city officials have hosted four other hearings to get input from the community.
The next step was a review by the City Council during a study session Aug. 4, after the News’ deadline. The code will then appear before the council for further deliberation at its regular Aug. 18 meeting. Roberge said the council could take action, if any, then or send it back to committee.
The move to update the sign code was put on the back burner for a couple of years while city officials first updated downtown zoning rules. The Planning Commission took up the debate again late last year. Roberge said sign codes can be controversial, trying to arrive at an agreement that satisfies residents and business owners.
“We wanted to make sure it fell in line with the vision we had for the downtown corridor,” he said.
That vision was to make Newcastle a pedestrian-friendly destination, similar to the Issaquah Highlands’ urban-village feel with its livable, walkable spaces, Roberge said.
Unfortunately, many of the storefronts are off the main strip of Coal Creek Parkway. Roberge said the trick was to reach a compromise that made signs easily readable by passing motorists, but not so large they would overwhelm someone walking past.
The other sticking point was enforcement. Roberge said another compromise the commission settled upon was essentially a grandfather clause that allows existing businesses to keep their signs as is. Any new buildings would be subject to creating signs that fell under the new guidelines.
Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

The Planning Commission approved a final draft to update the city’s sign code July 17, moving closer to the end of a Read more

State funds to battle local DUIs

August 13, 2009

By Tim Pfarr
Newcastle officials recently received confirmation that they will receive funds from the Washington State Traffic Commission through the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed program, which runs from Aug. 14 to Sept. 7.
The city may receive up to $1,200.
The program works to fight driving under the influence by putting additional police units on the road during night hours, when such driving is most common. The funds from the program will be used to pay for the overtime of Newcastle Police officers during this time, as the additional units on the road will be Newcastle’s existing officers. The police force consists of six patrol officers and Chief Melinda Irvine.
Newcastle received funds from the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed program in 2006, 2007 and 2008, receiving just under $900, $800 and $200 each year, respectively. The program runs from mid-August through Labor Day each year.
“The WSTC grants are a great help to our agency,” Irvine said. “They allow us to put extra officers on the streets.”
This year, the commission will distribute $200,000 to law enforcement agencies statewide through the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed program.
Newcastle Police have also applied for the next session of the X52 program, which provides funds to local law enforcement agencies to battle speeding and driving under the influence.
The commission distributes funds for the X52 program, and the upcoming session will run from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2010. Like Drive Hammered, Get Nailed funds, X52 funds pay for the overtime of local law enforcement officers.
The title X52 represents the presence of extra units on the road all weeks of the year. Since beginning in February 2008, the program has had two sessions, and Newcastle has received funds in both. The city received $2,000 in the first session and $3,300 in the second.
For the 2008-2009 session, the commission set aside $800,000 to pay for officer overtime statewide. However, the commission has not yet announced how much money it will distribute in the 2009-2010 session, and Newcastle has not yet received confirmation that it will get funds.
Irvine said she is hopeful the city will receive funds again.
“Traffic safety is a high priority for the citizens of Newcastle,” she said.

Newcastle officials recently received confirmation that they will receive funds from the Washington State Traffic Commission through the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed Read more

Rotary Club sets goals for 2009

August 13, 2009

By Hunter Deiglmeier
Innovative changes are coming to the Rotary Club of Newcastle.
Club President Fred Boyns explained that the Rotary Club would have a new meeting venue, lower monthly dues and an increase in Santa Parade activities.
The club is moving its meeting location from The Golf Club at Newcastle to the Newcastle Medical Center, 7203 129th Ave. S.E., in the Newcastle Medical Pavilion.
The club holds meetings at 7:30 a.m. every Wednesday.
“The biggest change is being able to hold meetings for lower cost,” Boyns said.
The club has also lowered its monthly dues.
“We are hoping to attract more members when it’s more affordable,” Boyns said. “The real focus is trying to get members to join and participate.”
The club has nine members, and it would benefit by having more members join, in order to provide the maximum amount of outreach to the community.
The club holds its largest community activity in the winter: the Santa Parade. This year, club members are enhancing the quality of pictures of children and families with Santa. The Santa Parade has been in the Newcastle community for 10 years.
Reach Intern Hunter Deiglmeier at isspress@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

By Hunter Deiglmeier

Innovative changes are coming to the Rotary Club of Newcastle.

Club President Fred Boyns explained that the Rotary Club would have Read more

Reagan Dunn faces two challengers in Aug. 18 primary

August 13, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Candidates in the race for the District 9 County Council seat are touting their credentials as reformers ahead of the Aug. 18 primary election.
Incumbent Councilman Reagan Dunn, elected to the post in November 2005, will face challengers Beverly Harison Tonda, a Maple Valley corporate trainer, and Newcastle playwright Mark Greene, as he seeks a second full term.
Dunn was first appointed to the post in February 2005 to serve the remainder of outgoing Councilman Rob McKenna’s term. McKenna was elected state attorney general the previous November.
District 9 includes large swaths of unincorporated King County south of Issaquah, as well as Bellevue, Newcastle and Renton.
Council positions are nonpartisan posts.
County officials face a $56 million shortfall in a budget of about $627 million. Metro Transit also faces a $200 million deficit over the next two years.
Dunn emphasized his record as a councilman and his willingness to slash spending to fix the budget problem.
“I am the No. 1 reformer in King County government,” he said.
The incumbent said officials should consider cutting county employees’ salaries and benefits in order to confront budget woes. Dunn, a former U.S. Justice Department official, said the county should focus on and protect existing services, such as courts, law enforcement and public safety.
“We need to get back to the basics,” he added.
Dunn also emphasized his opposition to raising and levying taxes. In 2007, he was the sole member of the nine-person council to vote against a countywide property tax to pay for foot ferries. The plan to add ferry service to Lake Washington has since run aground in the tough budget climate.
“I want to ensure the county can manage its budget by living within its means,” Dunn said.
Tonda said she could use her corporate background to mediate between King County officials and taxpayers. She described herself as an effective communicator, and said her skills as a corporate negotiator could help her bridge the divide.
“It’s time for a change in King County, and I’m the type of person who can do that,” she said.
She also addressed transportation issues; Tonda said King County officials should focus on improving transportation infrastructure to improve the quality of life for residents and to make the area more attractive to businesses.
As part of her plan to attract jobs, Tonda said the county Department of Development and Environmental Services should be restructured in order to streamline the process for businesses seeking to relocate to King County.
She highlighted a concern of local and state leaders seeking to retain major employers amid the recession.
“If Boeing moved out, we’d have to entice people to come in,” Tonda said.
Greene has campaigned unsuccessfully for several political posts. His most recent bid was for Washington secretary of state last year.
He blamed incumbent council members for budget problems.
“The county is in a financial mess and this is basically the result of the King County Council and other officials being unable to manage the budget,” Greene said.
He suggested levying a specialized sales tax on luxury items, such as limousines and yachts, as a way to generate revenue for struggling King County. He also proposed the creation of a Department of Grievances, Solutions and Whistleblowers to audit county finances and generate ideas to raise revenue.
“We need ways to get more revenue from the more affluent members of our society,” he said.
Though council posts are nonpartisan, Greene is running for the seat as a member of a political party he founded, the Party of Commons. The group “is economically progressive, generally culturally traditional, pro-Bill of Rights, non-interventionist and believes in common sense defense, not policing the world,” according to a statement on the party Web site.
“I think that the public deserves choices,” Greene said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.

By Warren Kagarise

Candidates in the race for the District 9 County Council seat are touting their credentials as reformers Read more

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