Responding to this morning's announcement that the King County Council lacks the votes to pass a tax measure to fund public safety, the county executive's office says that, unless the council breaks the logjam, severe layoffs will come next January. The bill would put a measure on the August ballot to raise sales taxes by 2/10ths of a percent, thereby generating $77 million for public safety.
King County Executive Dow Constantine's spokesman, Frank Abe, says that lacking urgent action by the council, 82 staffers will be laid off from the sheriff's office in January, including 70 officers. The funding for 36 deputy prosecuting attorneys would be lost (or the equivalent in reduced hours or cutbacks).
There's still a chance for the measure—but it has to be this summer, Abe says. The election "needs to be held in August in order to present a balanced budget in September that protects the public. If the vote were held in November the new revenues wouldn't be available until April," says Abe. "The Sheriff would have to lay off the next generation of Sheriff's deputies in January, with pink slips going out 60 days before."
But Abe warns that, in addition to layoffs, more could be lost to training costs if the council delays until the November election: "Those officers are not going to wait around for King County to make up its mind. They're going to find other jobs. It costs the Sheriff $100,000 apiece just to hire and train new officers who could start in April."