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Slick times ahead on King County roadways

SEATTLE — Icy and snowy roadways may plague area residents this winter as the King County Transportation Department recently announced a two-thirds reduction in the amount of roads it plans to plow in the event of a snowstorm.

“The likelihood that you could be snowbound or disconnected from the road network is greater this year than in years past,” King County officials said in a release.

plowNewly released maps of planned snow routes for King County show a big reduction in overall coverage area.  A drop in transportation funding caused by reduced property tax revenues is spurring the cutbacks, officials said. Officials said only about 10 percent of county roads will be plowed in the event of a county-wide snowstorm, down from 30 percent in years prior.

State law locks collection rates at the last assessed value of a property. And with property values around King County down on average of 40 percent since 2009, officials said the new collection fees don’t keep pace with inflation and the rising cost of maintaining roads.

“With fewer resources, the county has had to dramatically reduce service levels for maintaining roads and bridges in unincorporated areas,” the release said.

The reduction in plows also means it could take longer for heat and utilities to be restored during winter storm outages, the Seattle Times reported, as plows won’t be in the area to break a path for repair crews.

According to the Times ,100 truck drivers and plows will be in use for the 2013-14 winter season, down from the previous number of 171.

The city of Seattle maintains its own plows, and there was no word if any service would be cut.

For more information on the cutbacks and expected plow map, click here.

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3 comments

  • Kary L. Krismer

    You really need to do some more investigation on this one. First, the main component of real estate taxes are not affected by individual values. As the total value of real estate in King County drops, the rates increase so that the county collects the same amount of money (actually slightly more each year). Second, assuming that this is a type of service which are taxed per $1,000 of assessed value, like fire departments and schools, there was a huge run up prior to 2009 which far exceeded inflation. So unless King County was only plowing about 10% of the roads in 2004, this makes no sense.

  • guest

    as usual the real problem here is a lack of responsible use of the funds available. all the government knows how to say is "we need more!". wish my budget worked that way.