Enhancing service delivery in unincorporated King County

Dear fellow King County employee,

Today I am announcing a proposal to create a new Department of Local Services that would enable us to provide more effective services to the 250,000 people who live in unincorporated communities in King County.

Serving the people of this incredibly vast and diverse area is challenging, with its mosaic of rural communities, urban neighborhoods, farmland and forests, islands and mountains. Our employees work hard every day to deliver the services that residents rely on, even as General Fund revenues struggle to keep up with population growth and inflation due to structural revenue limitations imposed by the state.

By creating a department with a focus on unincorporated King County, we would be better able to ensure that the residents of this area receive the County services they need, that their voices are heard, and that they have a single entry point for services.

In consultation with members of the County Council, I am proposing the creation of a Department of Local Services that would include the following services:

  • The existing Department of Permitting and Environmental Services,
  • The Road Services and Airport Divisions of the Department of Transportation,
  • The Community Service Area program of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, and
  • The On-site Septic System and Plumbing & Gas Piping programs from the Environmental Health Division of Public Health-Seattle & King County.

The proposed department would be headed by a Cabinet-level leader reporting directly to me as County Executive. In the interim, I have named Department of Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi to manage the transition to the new organization.

As part of the proposed creation of this new department, the Marine Division of DOT, which operates the King County Water Taxi, would become part of the proposed new Metro Transit department to be led by Rob Gannon. The Fleet Administration Division, as an internal service agency currently in DOT, would be merged into the Department of Executive Services led by Director Caroline Whalen.

Existing revenues could fund the Department of Local Services. My proposal calls for establishing it effective Jan. 1, 2019, on the same date with my previously announced proposal to stand up Metro Transit as its own department. I will address more details in the formal legislation I plan to send in February to the County Council, and in the development of the Executive Proposed Budget for the 2019-2020 biennium.

This proposal is based upon the recommendations of an internal initiative led Senior Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett that studied ways to improve how the county delivers direct and contracted services, including roads, public safety, clean water, and increased access to opportunities.

The proposal, of course, would bring about change and we are committed to working closely with our labor partners, Councilmembers, department leadership and employees in departments involved in the proposal to make this a positive and smooth transition. Any change can cause stress, and our free Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is always available to you to assist with any concerns you may have about this proposal or any work-related issues.

Thank you for your continued work to deliver quality services to the people of King County.




Dow Constantine
King County Executive

Read more in the official press release.