Local Governments 101
Not counting the federal government, there are five local governmental bodies that have jurisdiction over part or all of Seattle, as well as at least five regulatory bodies or special agencies comprised of elected officials drawn in part or in whole from those local governments. Different governments/agencies have responsibility for different systems—for example, the Seattle Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over local roads in the city, King County Metro controls the County’s bus system, Sound Transit operates the Sound Transit Express buses, light rail trains, and Sounder commuter rail, and the Washington State Department of Transportation controls all of the state highways and interstates. Below is some quick information about each one, with a brief description at the beginning to give you a snapshot of what services each one is responsible for.
Some major areas of responsibility:
Building and maintaining City streets
Public safety (police and firefighters)
Local human services funding
Court cases involving all traffic fines and some misdemeanors
City parks and community centers
Zoning and permitting
Utility services (water, sewer, garbage, and electricity)
Seattle Municipal Court Judges
Major area of responsibility:
Committees: See full listing here
Major areas of responsibility in Seattle:
Most court cases, including appeals, felonies, misdemeanors, and civil suits
King County Jail and Juvenile Detention Center
Metro Transit buses and rideshare programs
Water Taxis to Vashon and West Seattle
Public health programs
King County Councilmembers
Major areas of responsibility:
Major areas of responsibility in Seattle:
K-12 public schools (funding and oversight)
University of Washington and Seattle Community Colleges
Statewide social safety net programs
Interstate 5 and all state highways (SR-99, 520, etc.)
Secretary of State
Commissioner of Public Lands
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Overview: The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is our Metropolitan Planning Organization, "a federally-mandated and federally-funded transportation policy-making organization...that is made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities" through which "federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled." (Wikipedia) The PSRC brings together representative elected officials from King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap Counties, as well as the cities, towns, ports, tribes, and transit agencies within them, to collaborate on planning around regional transportation, growth management, and economic development.
Members: Almost 100 representative officials from across the region. In addition to the annual general meeting that all of the representatives attend, a 32-member Executive Board also meets monthly. A full list of boards and committees can be found here.
Overview: Sound Transit was created via ballot initiative in 1996 "to plan, build and operate safe and reliable regional train and bus service." Sound Transit Express buses, Link Light Rail trains, and Sounder commuter trains in Snohomish, Pierce, and King Counties all fall under its jurisdiction.
Overview: From the KCFCD’s fact sheet: "The King County Flood Control District was established in 2007 to provide a proactive, regional approach to flood control as well as to fund improvements to the county’s nearly 500 aging and inadequate flood protection facilities. Funding for the Flood District comes from a countywide property tax levy of 10 cents per $1,000 assessed value. This amounts to approximately $40 per year on a $400,000 home. The levy raises roughly $36 million a year. Members of the King County Council oversee the Flood District as a Board of Supervisors. A 15‐member Advisory Committee made up of local government officials and citizens provides advice to the board. The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Water and Land Resources Division, carries out the approved flood protection projects and programs."
Members: The King County Flood Control District Board of Supervisors is composed of all 9 King County Councilmembers.
Meeting information: http://www.kingcountyfloodcontrol.org/default.aspx?ID=23
Overview: The King County Ferry District, which is governed by the King County Council, was created by the Council in April of 2007 to oversee passenger-only ferry service in the county. It currently oversees operations of passenger-only ferries between Vashon Island and downtown Seattle and the water taxi between West Seattle and downtown. As of November 2009, the District is funded through a property tax of 1/3 of a cent per $1,000 of assessed home value, which amounts to roughly $1.20 per year for a $400,000 home, or a total of $1.8 million per year.
Elected officials: The King County Ferry District Board of Supervisors is composed of all 9 King County Councilmembers.
Meeting information: http://www.kingcountyferries.org/default.aspx?ID=15
Overview: The Seattle City Council governs the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, a vehicle through which the state Legislature grants local governments the authority to raise taxes to fund transportation improvements in their jurisdictions. In 2005 and 2007 the Legislature granted additional authority to TBD’s to authorize a total of $100 in increased annual vehicle license fees—$20 directly, and up to an additional $80 subject to approval by the voters. The Seattle Transportation Benefit District was formed in 2010 to implement a $20 vehicle license fee; in 2011 the District referred a $60 fee increase to the voters, but it failed in the November election.
Members: The Seattle Transportation Benefit District is composed of all 9 Seattle City Councilmembers.
Meeting information: http://www.seattle.gov/stbd/agendas.htm
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