Council establishes new Department of Local Services

by Harold S. Taniguchi
Director, King County Dept. of Transportation
Local Services Transition Lead

On behalf of all who work with residents of unincorporated King County, I want to thank members of the Metropolitan King County Council for unanimously adopting an ordinance to make our new King County Department of Local Services a reality.

King County Council at dais

As you can see in this statement from Executive Constantine, this Council action now leads us into the budget process. The Department of Local Services (DLS) will be funded with existing revenues, and the Executive will now include the DLS in the 2019-2020 biennial budget he will propose to the Council on September 24. The Council is scheduled to adopt a County budget by Thanksgiving.

In preparing to stand up this new department, our staff  have met with community councils and associations throughout unincorporated King County. We heard from more than 700 residents at ten recent community town halls, and at four of those meetings people were able to type their questions directly into an online form. We’ve posted answers to their questions on our Local Services webpage — look for the yellow “Town hall Q&A’s” box on the right. Also on this page, our online survey, “King County’s Local Services: What do you think?,” remains open until the end of the year.

Behind the scenes, we’ve engaged in robust discussions of what is working and what we can do better to improve the customer experience.

fisheye lens view of meeting

Exec-DLS-networkingFor the first time ever we gathered in one room nearly 60 staff from across Executive-branch agencies who work on the front lines of delivering direct services to residents of the unincorporated areas. Executive Constantine kicked off that August 16 meeting by reminding us that, “Taken together, the residents of Unincorporated King County make up the second-largest city in the state. You are the front-line employees, whether you are housed in the new department or not. We can work to become a best-run government that gets ratings for local service as high as any local city.” See Executive Constantine’s video message below:

 

Executive Constantine is expected to name the first Director of Local Services in October. Much remains to be done, and I am excited to get the new department ready to hit the ground running on January 1, 2019.