A look back at accomplishments of the yearWith 2012 nearing an end, King County Executive Dow Constantine took the opportunity to look back at his office's top 12 accomplishments of the year and how they build on the reforms of previous years.
Executive Constantine on Dec. 6 issued the first marriage license in King County to a same-sex couple – the first in the nation to be issued under a state law enacted directly by voters. “Tonight you are making history,” he said at a special midnight ceremony."Any list is going to be subjective, and not every story here was one that captured the public's attention – but each held its own place in our agenda to create a sustainable government that works, and one that works for all the people," said Executive Constantine. "My thanks to the work of all our departments and staff who helped make our successes possible."
The Executive's top 12 stories of 2012 are, in rough chronological order:
- Merger of formerly incompatible business systems – Outmoded paper processes and redundant data entry were swept away with implementation of Accountable Business Transformation: the successful merger of two separate payroll systems – one for King County and one for Metro – and two separate financial systems into one modern, efficient business backbone that provides real-time information on payroll, budgets and procurement.
- Siting of future schools to be inside urban areas – A regional task force unanimously called for future schools in districts that straddle the Urban Growth Boundary to be sited in urban areas and rural towns, rather than in areas designated as rural. The resolution of this long-standing dispute helps deliver educational excellence for children without sacrificing the rural environment up and down the "bright green line" that separates urban from rural – and which keeps King County from becoming another Los Angeles.
- Procurement reform opens access for businesses to do business with King County – Contract awards to small contractor and supplier firms nearly doubled in 2012, thanks in part to a redesigned online vendor registration system that saved thousands of dollars in paper and staff time, and a new partnership with the Port of Seattle and Sound Transit for a "one-stop" small business certification program.
- Revitalization of Pioneer Square through mixed-use development – Construction of the long-awaited North Lot development next to CenturyLink Field can already be seen, thanks to Council adoption of the Executive's innovative parking solution that helped close the deal with all partners. The project on part of the old Kingdome site is expected to create up to 2,700 construction jobs and more than $727 million in economic activity over the next decade.
- Cities re-enlist in partnership for regional animal services – The reforms and new leadership put in place for animal care and control were affirmed when 25 cities voted to renew their contracts with Regional Animal Services of King County. In partnership with cities and animal advocates throughout the region, the work continues to improve the delivery of affordable, sustainable, and humane animal services.
- Voter approval of new Children and Family Justice Center – The longstanding need to replace the aging and dilapidated Youth Services Center was finally solved when voters approved a nine-year property tax levy, and troubled youth and their families were the winners. The new center now being designed for a 2018 opening will better protect the safety of youth who must be detained there, and provide room for modern approaches that move young people out of the criminal-justice system and provide help for families — including juvenile drug court, parent-to-parent mentoring programs, and therapeutic services for youth.
- At the permit counter of the new Snoqualmie offices for the renamed King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review.Move of permitting services closer to customers – To the applause of staff and customers, the Executive issued the first single-family home building permit at the new Snoqualmie offices of the newly-renamed King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review. The new name and new location were the latest in a series of customer-service-focused changes made in the last two years at the once-maligned agency, where the director said he and his staff have "hit the reset button."
- Honors for hard-working small business owners – The importance and accomplishments of the small businesses that create local jobs and contribute to our regional economy were celebrated for the second year in a row at the King County Executive's Small Business Awards at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. The event brought together 230 people from local chambers of commerce, cities, and small business organizations as the winners were announced. Read More >>
- NBA Arena proposal developed and adopted – Perhaps the most high-profile story of the year unfolded over eight months as the Executive and Seattle Mayor proposed an unprecedented financial model for construction of a new NBA arena that provides strong protections for the public, minimizes financial risk, and is far different from those used for the region's past stadiums. The final agreement adopted by the Seattle and King County Councils now puts the region in position for investor Chris Hansen and his partners to bring the NBA and the Sonics back to King County, and to also acquire a National Hockey League franchise.
- Balancing budget while preserving most services –With a reform agenda that created $60 million of efficiencies and introduced Lean business practices, the Executive proposed and the Council adopted a biennial budget that funded most County services at current levels, despite sharply limited growth in the economy. The budget was balanced not by raising taxes or cutting services, but by creating efficiencies and engaging in a philosophy and a methodology for continuous improvement.
- Celebration of marriage equality – All eyes were on King County as Executive Constantine personally issued the first marriage licenses here to same-sex couples – the first in the nation to be issued under a state law that was enacted directly by voters. The marathon that followed was praised by participants and observers as government at its finest, with the efficient processing of a record 623 marriage licenses in just three days.
- Acquisition of Eastside Rail Corridor for rails and trails – The long-held dream of a world-class regional trail system that also preserves Eastside commuter rail options moved closer to reality with the Executive's proposal and the Council's adoption of legislation to acquire nearly 20 miles of former BNSF rail property. The purchase and sale agreement fulfills the promise to the region of preserving a public corridor through the most urbanized areas of east King County.