State of the county address given at City Council meeting

February 28, 2013

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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UPDATED — 11:05 p.m. March 6, 2013

Editor’s note: Councilman Reagan Dunn misspoke at the Feb. 5 meeting. The route has a potential to be reduced, not necessarily eliminated. Thus, the City Council decided at its March 5 meeting to not send a letter to Metro Transit. The city will continue to monitor the situation.

King County Councilman Reagan Dunn delivered his State of the County address at the Feb. 5 Newcastle City Council meeting, dropping news that King County Metro Transit bus route 240 could be eliminated once a grant that makes it possible expires in June.

Route 240 spans from Bellevue to Renton, passing through Newcastle. Its cancellation would be a major blow to local commuters who travel by bus.

“That’s the lifeblood of this area here,” Mayor Rich Crispo said at the meeting.

Metro Transit received a four-year Regional Mobility Grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2009, adding funds for service to routes 240 and 245, which run through Kirkland and Bellevue.

“Metro is planning to discontinue those routes in June, 240 in particular, if we don’t find a funding source,” Dunn said. “If we don’t do anything, it could go away. We’ll have to figure out a solution to it.”

Dunn promised that the route would not go down without a fight.

“The good news is I chair the Regional Transit Committee,” he said. “I’ll have a strong say in it. It is a backbone route, not just here, but in Bellevue and Renton as well.”

The Regional Transit Committee has policy oversight over Metro Transit.

Growing up in the area, Dunn said he used the route often and understood its significance.

“As a kid, I used to ride that from Newport down to Renton all the time, and back then, it even went through parts of Newcastle,” he said. “I know how important it is to this community.”

The Newcastle City Council voted to take a stand against the issue when it directed City Manager Rob Wyman to send a letter from the city to Metro Transit, opposing the reduction, at the Feb. 19 council meeting.

“I think it’s important that our community stand up and say we need that bus. It’s one of the few buses running through Newcastle,” Councilwoman Carol Simpson said.

Dunn also spoke briefly about the 2013 $7.6 billion county budget, saying that the county appeared to be in better shape compared to years past.

“I think the hemorrhaging is over for now, provided we don’t see another down economy,” he said. “We’re making strides in that area.”

Similar to many cities, including Newcastle, 73 percent of dollars from the county’s general fund go toward criminal justice programs and public safety. The budget does not dip into cash reserves or the county’s rainy day fund.

The councilman also expressed concern about the county’s ability to fund unincorporated area roads. Some areas of unincorporated King County border Newcastle.

“I’m trying to find a solution,” he said. “I’m trying to think about how we can squeeze more efficiencies out of it, how we can reprioritize existing resources and whether there are revenues or fee increases required as well.”

Lastly, Dunn highlighted two county programs he is involved with, bringing awareness to important societal issues.

The councilman, along with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, unveiled an anti-human trafficking campaign at the end of January. Radio spots, billboards and advertisements on city buses are expected to bring attention to the human trafficking that occurs in the area and around the world.

Dunn is also involved in the county’s veteran internship program, which assists returning veterans by giving them employment opportunities. The Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity program is open to all veterans living in King County.

Dunn is the King County Council representative for Newcastle, areas south of Issaquah and Southeast King County.

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One Response to “State of the county address given at City Council meeting”

  1. Roger Ingalls on March 6th, 2013 9:39 am

    Hey residents, speak up!

    This is an important issue for many people in our area, not just those that ride these buses. High school and college kids from our area use that route to go to and from Bellevue College, and jobs, and use it simply to get home from after school events.

    Let’s show them the route is important to us!.

    Contact Reagan Dunn, Metro, and any other elected officials you can influence, and save that route.

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