Should Burien Cut the Cord

Relying on King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) for police services may have been a good idea 10 years ago.  But today I see Burien’s city leadership as more mature where this service could be brought in-house instead of outsourcing to KCSO.  SeaTac with a similar agreement, population and cost is revisiting their decision in these economically hard times, and we should too.

In the current 2021 interlocal agreement with King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) is $13 million dollars, including the costs for police staff and equipment of $8 million and a second component of $5.4 million covering KCSO fixed costs where they apportion out these costs out to all King County municipalities that use their services.

Imagine if Burien’s leaders made the decision to cut the cord and have an independent police department that incurred the same staffing and equipment costs.  Burien in theory could have an additional $5.4 million to spend on other unfunded opportunities; no need for an 8% Utility tax or use it for a portion of the $111 million dollars of unfunded capital improvements. 

Imagine if the $8 million was spent locally in Burien, in Burien businesses and staffed by Burien residents where the millions never leave Burien.  Using the “local multiplier effect” economic concept, it would be as if a 3-fold this amount; like almost $120 million dollars more spent locally per year and saving $5 million dollars not transferred to KCSO to cover a portion of their fixed expenses.

Imagine the decision was made 5 years ago; that would be $600 million dollars of new spending in Burien and would have saved $25 million of our citizens money outside of Burien to KCSO overhead for the last 5 years. 

 I’m making some judgements (“you may call wild guesses”) as to the economic impact and opportunities for Burien.  But shouldn’t having our own police force at least be considered; a study be made by experts to see exactly what would be the economic impact along with pros and cons of our existing relationship with KCSO?

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