King County Metro, which provides bus and transit service throughout the county, is facing a nearly $400 million drop in revenue over the next three years. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov

King County Metro, which provides bus and transit service throughout the county, is facing a nearly $400 million drop in revenue over the next three years. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov

COVID-19 budget woes hit King County

Several critical programs are facing significant shortfalls.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures enacted by the state have been hitting King County coffers hard.

Revenue projections through 2022 are grim for several funds, including Metro and the county’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) services.

Metro, which provides bus and transit service throughout the county, is facing a nearly $400 million drop in revenue over the next three years.

MIDD is expected to see a $42 million reduction — roughly a 27 percent decrease in total funding — over the same period.

There’s also a projected $79 million shortfall in the county’s general fund, which pays for several programs and departments.

“Unless we get federal support that will help us offset our revenue losses, we are going to be in for a very difficult (2021-22) biennial budget,” said Dwight Dively, the county’s budget director, at a May 5 Committee of the Whole meeting.

And those estimates are likely less severe than the actual economic impacts will be, he said. The county depends on sales and property taxes for much of its revenue. As residents have been forced to stay inside and businesses have shuttered, the county’s funding has dropped.

Metro faces another funding challenge as fares were eliminated in late March due to COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic hit, the county was struggling to find a way to fund road and bridge maintenance. The county’s Local Services department was short $250 million annually for these services.

The federal government awarded the county more than $260 million in emergency funds as part of the CARES Act. The money was initially slated to go toward COVID-19 response costs. However, earlier this week, the federal government indicated that other areas of county government that have been used or repurposed to fight the outbreak may be eligible for the funding. Dively hopes to reimburse as much cost as possible from state and federal funds.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn asked whether the $79 million projected shortfall in the budget would need to be addressed this fall. Dively said the county has enough reserves to cover the costs this year, but he doesn’t know if budget cuts will become necessary in the latter half of the year.

Those cuts could come sooner for MIDD programs. The only source of the program, which provides critical support for people with mental health and addiction issues, is a 0.1 % sales tax. Budget cuts could come to the program this summer.

The committee also discussed a second emergency funding ordinance that will come before the county council next week. The ordinance would provide more than $54 million in funding and loans to agencies and organizations. The first such ordinance provided $27.4 million in early March.

This ordinance, on top of funding county departments and functions, would provide $13 million in loans to support tourism, arts and culture and homeless youth activities. The loans would be paid through future revenue from the lodging tax.

It also includes $2 million for a relief program for small businesses in unincorporated King County.

Much of the funding in the ordinance would come from state and federal money that will be available from the CARES Act.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

School lunch. File photo
School district distributes thousands of extra meals amid pandemic

Congress hasn’t renewed the program, which provided twice as many student meals for free last spring.

Todd Keeney, president of the Federal Way Washington Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presents a check towards diapers for FWPS families to Laura Batcheller, ECEAP/Head Start (ESTART) program manager​ of Federal Way Public Schools. Courtesy photo
Local LDS church donates to families of FWPS Early Learning program

The donations included hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, and a six-month supply of diapers for 460 kids, and more.

Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
City of Federal Way to close Steel Lake Park

The park will be closed indefinitely to visitors starting Thursday, Aug. 13.

The Enumclaw Health and Rehabilitation Center, which is located by St. Elizabeth hospital, a senior living community, and a nursing home. File photo
Inslee lifts visitation ban at long-term care facilities

Starting Wednesday, a four-phase plan will allow restrictions at nursing homes to gradually be relaxed.

Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Upcoming drive-in movies at the PAEC

Free showing of Toy Story 4 at 8:40 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15

Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda
A sweet success: FWPD drive-thru ice cream social serves more than 1,500 residents

The event, paid for by local businesses, raised about $4,500 for Washington Special Olympics.

Two homes struck by gunfire | Federal Way police blotter

In two separate incidents, officers found evidence of a shooting; no injuries resulted from incidents

barry johnson
Local artist’s work beautifies transformation of Federal Way’s downtown

Federal Way resident barry johnson created an “Our Federal Way” mural to be displayed outside of the Sound Transit construction site of incoming link extension.

South King Fire rescue swimmers search for a man underwater at Steel Lake Park on Aug. 8. Photo courtesy of South Sound Media Production
Man in critical condition after drowning at Steel Lake

Rescue swimmers pulled the man from the lake on Saturday evening, Aug. 8.

Most Read