Faced with elimination by the King County Council, the Upper Bear Creek Community Council was spared by name, but it will lose its funding under legislation the King County Council approved this week.
Woodinville neighbors might best know the Upper Bear Creek Community Council for the summer Music in the Park concert series it puts on each year. (Click here for related story.)
But the group, formed in 1999, was set up to help some 21,000 residents of unincorporated King County near Woodinville have better communication with King County government.
Its mission (along with that of five other Unincorporated Area Councils, or UACs) has been to identify issues of concern, develop service priorities, serve as a resource for citizen input and advice, and review proposed county spending in the community and recommend priorities.
“So why do they shut down 200 or more volunteers, who are organized, who are up and running, who have the contacts and have the history of being trustworthy and evenhanded and not hysterical?” asked Upper Bear Creek’s president, Nancy Stafford, in an interview with Patch.
On Monday, the King County Council effectively ended funding for the UACs, which were allotted $10,000 a year, by adopting a new model of interaction between county government and the 285,000 people living outside the boundaries of the county’s 39 cities.
Currently, the UACs represent about 96,110 people, or 33 percent of the residents in unincorporated King County. The new legislation would form new unincorporated Community Service Areas, or CSAs, to serve all of the unincorporated area residents.
“Under the framework, a single point of contact will hold meetings with service areas to develop work programs and provide regular opportunities for community-based organizations, such as Unincorporated Area Councils (UACs), to meet and work with King County officials,” the County Council said in a statement.
The move also is supposed to save the county money.
‘A better ear’
Over the years, the Upper Bear Creek council has helped neighbors successfully oppose a cell tower in Bear Creek Highlands and get quieter pavement installed on a portion of Avondale Road, along with other issues, Stafford said. (Click here for previous coverage.)
“They got a better ear when they came through the Upper Bear Creek Community Council,” Stafford said.
The new framework gives the UACs $2,500 each in transition money as the plan moves ahead.
County Executive Dow Constantine is scheduled to present an implementation plan for the new service areas when he proposes the annual county budget in September.
As for the Upper Bear Creek group, Stafford said this summer’s concerts would go on as planned, but beyond that, she wasn’t sure.
“To answer your question, what are we going to do? I really don’t know,” Stafford said.
“I think the Upper Bear Creek Community Council will still try to be the ear in the community,” Stafford said. “Whether we can still make a dent in the county for our people, I don’t know.”