Northshore centers are set to receive funding

King County Council members have formally adopted their 2009 budget, and the numbers contain some good news for Bothell and at least two local institutions.

As expected, the county restored dollars to the Northshore Public Health Center in Bothell, meaning the center should stay open throughout 2009.

The family health clinic had been targeted for closure June 30 in the initial budget proposed by King County Executive Ron Sims.

“The executive’s proposed budget increased public health’s administrative budget, while funding was eliminated for core services, including the Northshore Public Health Center,” said county council member Bob Ferguson, District 1, which includes Bothell and Kenmore. “I proposed cutting from administration to prioritize direct service to people.”

According to Megan Heahlke, legislative aide to Ferguson, the administrative cuts amounted to leaving some currently empty positions unfilled. The move gave the county an additional $553,000 to use elsewhere, according to Ferguson.

Bothell’s Northshore Senior Center also will receive some funding it was slated to lose. According to information supplied by Ferguson, the revamped budget hands the senior center $55,306 for general services, along with $36,933 for adult day-care programs.

“This funding gives us breathing room to determine how we can sustain our programs into the future,” said center Executive Director Lee Harper. “As our senior population continues to grow, funding sources are disappearing given the realities of our economy. This money allows us to continue providing positive aging programs, while we address our long-term funding options.”

Serving about 7,000 senior citizens annually according to the county, the center never was slated for closure, but the proposed cuts had center leadership scrambling for alternative funding. The center’s adult day-care program was targeted specifically because state funding is available for such programs. However, Harper said there is a definite gap between the state dollars and actual expenditures.

In the current year, Northshore is serving approximately 235 persons at adult day centers it operates in Bothell and Kirkland.

According to Ferguson, the rewritten budget also includes $65,305 for the Center for Human Services, which provides counseling, support and substance-abuse treatment for juveniles and families throughout northern King County. Like Harper, center Director Beratta Gomillion expressed relief.

“This funding improves our ability to continue providing services to north-end families, children and the least fortunate,” she said.

As another plus for Bothell, the new spending plan preserves funds that could aid the city should local officials decide to move forward with annexing neighboring portions of unincorporated King County in the near future. The original budget removed $7.5 million in reserve funds that were to be set aside to help cities with annexation plans.

According to Ferguson’s office, King County faced a projected $93 million budget deficit for 2009. In revamping the original budget plan, besides leaving some administrative positions empty, Ferguson said the county council took a few other smaller steps such as eliminating a $104,000 project to archive old Kingdome videos, as well as a $345,000 upgrade of the county’s voicemail system.

All in all, Ferguson did not have many kind words for the initial spending plan.

“The decision to protect important community services ... was a higher priority than archiving videos of the Kingdome or upgrading the county’s voicemail system,” he said. “I didn’t lose sleep over the changes to that part of the budget.”

Sims must still act to approve the newly proposed spending plan. He can sign the document as presented or alter it via line-item veto. The council can override any vetoes with a supemajority of six votes.

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