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County roads division issues more pink slips

King County’s financially strapped roads division is laying off 54 employees and cutting 11 positions currently not filled — its biggest round of layoffs since it began downsizing two years ago.

The cuts go into effect next year, assuming the King County Council approves the roads division budget. “By early next year, we will have lost about a third of our work force,” said Rochelle Ogershok, a spokesperson for the agency.

The reductions stem from a changing picture in the county, where annexations, a decline in gas tax revenues and a reduction in property values have eaten away at the county’s road fund. Over the past four years, the road fund has declined 25 percent.

The situation was aggravated, county officials say, by the state Legislature’s refusal this year to grant counties the authority to seek transit and road revenues.

“We said at the time there would be consequences if the state didn’t free us to solve this funding crisis, and now we’re seeing them,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release. “The current system for funding local roads across the state hasn’t been revisited in decades, and it no longer works.”

 

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