King County Council sends to voters charter amendment emphasizing its role in rural areas
August 18, 2010
By Dan Catchpole
NEW — 6:00 p.m. Aug. 18, 2010
The November general election ballot will include a proposed amendment to the King County Charter emphasizing county government’s role in unincorporated areas.
King County is the main provider of services for the more than 140,000 residents living in its unincorporated areas, which includes several thousand people in the upper Snoqualmie Valley.
In addition, the amendment would also highlight the county’s responsibility to both its urban and rural areas, and its role as a regional and local government. The proposed change also states that the county should be concerned with both the area’s economy and environment.
The proposal, which the Metropolitan King County Council approved July 19, is a revised version of a recommendation made by the King County Charter Review Commission in its 2008 report.
The commission also recommended designating “a high-level position within the Office of the Executive to represent the interests of rural and urban unincorporated area residents.”
After taking office, King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Lauren Smith as unincorporated area relations manager.
While the position is not as high level as the Charter Review Commission recommended, it serves the same purpose, said Frank Abe, spokesman for the executive.
“Our approach is to address the underlying need, and that is how to ensure that the county provides high-quality local services and governance to the rural areas, and does it well,” he said.
In addition, the executive is also pushing for a new land use and permitting unit in the Department of Development and Environmental Services, Abe said.
DDES handles permitting and land use in the unincorporated areas. Rural areas will become a greater portion of its workload in the future.
“As annexations occur in urban areas, DDES’ mission will be increasingly focused on rural areas,” Abe said.
The council also approved a second amendment proposal designed to streamline the filing of campaign-related finance reports. Rather than filing the required reports with the county and the state, political candidates would only have to file with the state.
A charter review commission meets every 10 years to recommend changes to the charter, which is the basic “constitution” of King County government. The last commission, which met in 2007-2008, recommended 12 amendments to be staggered over several years.
In 2008, voters approved five of six charter amendments on the ballot. In 2009, four more charter amendments were on the ballot, and voters approved them all.
Citizens can help draft voter pamphlet statements for or against either of the two charter amendments. To volunteer, call the council clerk at 206-296-1020.
Dan Catchpole: 392-6434, ext. 246, or firstname.lastname@example.org.