The Lifeboat Is in the Water, Will It Float?

Lifeboat from Titanic.
Here it is, King County health and justice programs. Your lifeboat.

Last October, we explained Ron Sims' creative plan for keeping essential programs like family court services alive by floating them out of the deep-in-the-red county budget for six months, then going to Olympia and threatening to sink everything unless the legislature gives King County some way of raising more money and unloading the pricey unincorporated areas.

State Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, dropped bill 2249 today--a.k.a. the lifeboat.

The bill gives King County the ability to tax sewer and utilities in unincorporated areas to raise revenues. It also provides some flexibility in how money raised by levies is spent--so money voters approved for new mental health programs could be used to save mental health court, something not currently allowed. It isn't actually defined as a bill for King County, just counties with populations over 1.5 million. Pierce, the second most populous county, has 773,000, according to the Census Bureau.

The bill also includes additional taxing authority to encourage smaller cities to annex the surrounding residential areas. If Hunter can get this thing passed at least mostly in tact, Ron Sims will leave for DC with a bit of a shine on his legacy. So far no co-sponsors have signed on to the legislation. A call to Hunter's office was not immediately returned.

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