King County budget funds marine rescue team

SEATTLE — It looks like the King County Sheriff's Helicopter and Marine Rescue Units, which were on the chopping block, will be saved.

A new county budget forecast also adds $7 million to fight the homeless problem in King County.

Two months ago, King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed $22 million in budget cuts, which would affect people across the county.

But now, after crunching numbers, and with a brighter economic forecast, Constantine believes there will be enough revenue to spare cutting the sheriff's office Helicopter and Marine Rescue Divisions.

Sheriff John Urquhart had testified that people would die if those programs were eliminated.

The new budget proposal, that could be finalized as early as Thursday, also saves jobs in the sheriff's office, Public Defenders Office, and Prosecutor's Office.

It also calls for $7 million being spent on the homeless problem.

An around-the-clock navigation center would help get people into housing more quickly and in the budget, there's money to add a new 50-bed shelter and gathering facility for the homeless and turn an office building near Harborview Medical Center into a 100-bed shelter.

According to reports, the new money for the extra services would come from $2.7 million in new construction tax revenue and a new fee for utility companies to access rights-of-way on county property.

That alone could bring in $10 million a year.

The King County Council is scheduled to vote on the new $1.6 billion budget next Monday.

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