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Carnation police levy fails again
CARNATIONAs 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
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."