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Testimony sought for new county boundaries

The independent citizen committee charged with drawing new boundary lines for members of the Metropolitan King County Council - while reducing the number of districts from 13 to nine - has announced a series of public meetings where members will take public comment.

None will be in the Enumclaw area. For Plateau citizens, the closest meeting will be in Auburn.

The work of the citizen committee - and formation of the committee itself - was spurred by the November vote of King County citizens, who demanded the county council be whittled down. Losing four council members could save taxpayers anywhere from $1 million to $4 million annually, depending on whose figures are used.

The five members of the King County Districting Committee will take testimony on how citizens would identify "communities of interest." State law requires committee members to draw the boundaries of the nine new districts so they correspond as nearly as practical with the boundaries of existing municipalities, election precincts, census tracts, recognized natural boundaries and communities of mutual interest.

The four public meetings are:

€ 6 p.m. today, Wednesday, in council chambers of Bellevue City Hall.

€ 6 p.m., Jan. 5, at Lake Forest Park City Hall.

€ 6 p.m., Jan. 6, council chambers at Auburn City Hall.

€ 10 a.m., Jan. 8, in council chambers of the King County Courthouse.

The committee is also taking online testimony through its Web site at www.metrokc.gov/council/districting.

The committee has also planned a series of working meetings, which are open to the public but not for the purpose of taking public testimony. A 9 a.m. meeting on Jan. 3 will be for the committee to review alternative districting plans. A 9 a.m. meeting on Jan. 12 will allow the committee to review public testimony. A 10 a.m. meeting on Jan. 15 is earmarked for final adoption of the districting plan.

The Jan. 3 and Jan. 12 meetings are planned for the Southwest Room, found on the 12th floor of the county courthouse. The Jan. 15 meeting will be in council chambers, found on the 10th floor of the county courthouse.

County Councilman Steve Hammond, who represents the southern portion of King County, feels Enumclaw residents will not be dramatically impacted by the reduced size of the council. Some members will be out of a job, but Hammond believes the rural nature of his district will keep him on the council when new boundary lines are drawn.

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