Carnation police levy fails again

CARNATION—As the absentee ballots slowly trickled into the

King County Elections office, it became evident that Carnation's police

levy lost its original fraction-of-a-percent lead. Instead, the levy failed by

.40 percent, which represents just a few "yes" responses that were needed.

"Who said votes don't count?" commented Mayor David Hunter

in response to the news.

The city saw a similar response to September's $102,000 levy. The

measure almost received the 60 percent super majority, but failed to get

enough voters at the poll to validate the levy.

Because the measure didn't pass again, the city will have

about $100,000 less revenue to spend on police services — or one

full-time deputy — compared to last year.

"We knew there wasn't any other money in the budget to keep the

one officer. So it was felt that there was no place else to pare down," Hunter said.

Currently, the three King County deputies assigned to Carnation

work four 10-hour shifts. Usually, there would be two officers on duty per

day with the county officers covering during down times. But since the

levy didn't pass, the department will condense to two full-time officers,

probably covering only one 10-hour shift a day.

The task of re-negotiating the police services contract will be up to

the Sheriff's Office and City Manager Woody Edvalson, Hunter said.

"It's still better than our own police department," he said.

"[Before], if there was a burglary, the

county would call our department and the next officer who came on duty would

respond when they came on."

"Now, it would [get] regular response time with that type of

call," Hunter added.

But before the city drops one of its officers, officials are making

sure that the levy truly failed. The city requested a physical re-count just in

case there were any mismarked ballots or mechanical errors. The re-count

was scheduled for Wednesday, after the Valley Record went to press.

In addition to the reduced funding for police services, general fund

expenditures will also take an approximately 16-percent cut across the

board — mainly in the form of professional consulting services.

"We'll do the [consulting] ourselves," said Finance Director

Richard Gould. "I'm going to be all over the staff to not use the

professional services too much because that's where our biggest cuts will be

coming from."

For example, the engineering department will be allocated

about $20,000 less in professional services than last year. The building

inspections/permits section faced a similar reduction as well.

Though many areas of the government are being reduced, there

are some major capital projects still planned for next year. The city

was able to obtain several grants recently worth over $350,000 to fund road

improvements on Milwaukee Avenue and West Entwistle Street, Gould

said. And the city hopes to solicit more grants to fund additional projects

in the future.

Until then, Gould said the only way the city will survive in the

year 2000 is for staff to remain dedicated to the same goal — less spending.

"Every month we have a meeting to go over the money and updated

fund statement. We've got it down to a science right now," Gould

commented. "It comes down to communication.

If we can talk between departments, we can be successful."

Copies of Carnation's draft budget are available at city hall. The

newly elected council is expected to vote on the final budget at its next meeting

on Dec. 7.

"This is a test year to see if we can go through 2000 and beyond,"

Gould said. "This year we need to buckle down and show that we can do it."

"It's a tight one," Hunter admitted. "People will have to be patient

and [know] that the city will do the best with the money we have."

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