Economy

King County Council Chair Dow Constantine has called for a county hiring freeze through the end of 2009, a step that could save an estimated $15 million, including approximately $1 million in general fund spending, he said.

“We must cut spending immediately to offset costs for essential ‘lifeboat’ programs that were only granted partial-year funding in this year’s budget,” said Constantine. “Leaving positions vacant will provide funds to be used in next year’s budget, which has already been projected to have a shortfall of almost $50 million.”

Due to the public safety and public health nature of their positions, the proposed freeze would not affect the hiring of personnel in four key areas:

- The King County Sheriff’s Office

- Corrections officers in county correctional facilities

- Health care providers in county correctional facilities and county health centers

- The King County Superior Court, King County District Court, or King County Prosecutor’s Office

07/09/2009

After seven years in Ballard, Epilogue Books will be permanently closing their doors in mid-August, according to a press release from the owners.

They report that they were unable to reach agreeable terms on a new lease with the landlord and could not find another building in time.

"We've all enjoyed serving the Ballard neighborhood and surrounding area. Thanks to everyone for their support." said Nathan Heath, owner of Epilogue Books. "The store will close July 1 through 4 to prepare for liquidation. Clearance sales will begin on Sunday, July 5 at 11 a.m. All items in the store, both new and used, will be marked down 20 percent to 70 percent. We have more than 70,000 books that we need to sell over the next month and a half."

Everything, including the shelves, must go. The store is located at the corner of Northwest Market Street and 20th Avenue Northwest.

The recession has hit Ballard hard, with several other businesses, some long-time Ballard fixtures, forced to close.

06/30/2009
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Michael Harthorne

Epilogue Books announced it will close after seven years in Ballard. It can no longer afford its rent at 2001 N.W. Market St.

Gifted, a colorful gift and card store in the Archie McPhee style, is expanding in its Ballard Avenue location.

Work on expanding the store deeper into its building has been going on for a month and will be totally completed by Seafood Fest, Gifted owner Emoret Fossum said.

When a new owner purchased the building at 5427 Ballard Ave. N.W. last summer, he decided to expand the spaces of both Gifted and Kavu, though that store will be moving in the future, Fossum said.

Fossum said she was more excited for the expansion at the time it was announced before the recession.

"It was last summer before the bottom fell out," she said. "We're a little nervous now, but hopefully it will be a good thing."

She said Gifted will use the extra room for more of the same and will have a little more room to spread out.

06/30/2009
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Michael Harthorne

Gifted on Ballard Avenue is expanding.

The Seattle City Council today launched a new Web site, Recession Resources for Seattle Residents, to help people cope with the current economic crisis.

The new site offers links to a variety of informational sites and resources for those seeking job training, debt assistance, help with housing issues and healthcare.

“Our goal is to make it easier for Seattle residents to find the help they need, and find it quickly,” council president Richard Conlin said. “Hopefully, these resources will make what is a difficult time for many people just a little less stressful.”

The council committed to getting this informational resource online as one of the elements of its Economic Recovery Plan embodied in resolution 31135. The complete list of topics that users will find assistance with includes foreclosures, home purchasing, safeguarding savings and retirement funds, debt service, job search and training, child care and food assistance, health care and utility bill payer assistance.

The council site essentially makes existing resources more accessible in one location.

06/30/2009

Dear Editor,

With politicians in D.C. jabbering about when the massive government stimulus will start yielding results, we’re already beginning to see the fruits of their efforts.

As the West Seattle Herald reported, King County recently received $79 million of federal stimulus. While of course welcome in today’s dire economic straits, the distribution of these funds and the very means of their procurement offer a glimpse at one of the candidates fighting to become our next King County Executive.

The acquisition of these vital funds, as well as millions more currently pending, are “part of an organized effort to maximize the benefits to King County from federal stimulus funding sponsored by council chair Dow Constantine” as reported by the Herald.

In fact, Mr. Constantine has even authored legislation to create post that will be in charge of “identify[ing] appropriate grant opportunities and communicate timelines (…) to ensure timely submission of applications” in an effort to maximize the effect of the government stimulus in King County.

06/25/2009

Dear Editor,

With politicians in D.C. jabbering about when the massive government stimulus will start yielding results, we’re already beginning to see the fruits of their efforts.

As the Ballard News-Tribune reported, King County recently received $79 million of federal stimulus. While of course welcome in today’s dire economic straits, the distribution of these funds and the very means of their procurement offer a glimpse at one of the candidates fighting to become our next King County Executive.

The acquisition of these vital funds, as well as millions more currently pending, are “part of an organized effort to maximize the benefits to King County from federal stimulus funding sponsored by council chair Dow Constantine” as reported by the News-Tribune.

In fact, Mr. Constantine has even authored legislation to create post that will be in charge of “identify[ing] appropriate grant opportunities and communicate timelines (…) to ensure timely submission of applications” in an effort to maximize the effect of the government stimulus in King County.

06/25/2009

King County has been awarded nine federal economic stimulus grants totaling almost $79 million, funds which will be used to create or retain 192 jobs, according to a report issued by the county executive’s office.

The report is part of an organized effort to maximize the benefits to King County from federal stimulus funding sponsored by council chair Dow Constantine. Another 22 county stimulus applications—totaling $78 million and creating another 602 potential jobs—are pending and King County has also worked with regional and national partners on preparing another nine grant applications.

“By adopting an organized game plan for pursuing federal stimulus funds, King County has already realized significant benefits, especially as it pertains to job creation and retention” said Constantine. “In these tough economic times, it is imperative we focus significant effort on bringing job opportunities to the citizens of King County.”

Among the grants obtained by King County were:

- An award of $400,000 to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to allow for the retention of prosecutor’s staff.

06/23/2009
Everything 50 percent off

Best Regards owner Mary Hurley has announced her last few days of business. The store will close to customers Saturday, June 27 and the storefront vacated by June 30.

The cards and stationery store at 2242 N.W. Market St., will be closing its doors after 16 years in Ballard.

Hurley is hoping to sell racks and fixtures from her store to other Ballard business owners at a "great deal." All merchandise is at a 50 percent discount, too.

The slumping economy played a large part in her decision to close the store, said Hurley last month when she announced she would close her business.

Hurley, a past president of the Ballard District Council, said a pending hike in her lease due to the sale of the building has also impacted her decision.

"Since last fall, it's been really tough to keep it together," she told the Ballard News-Tribune last month.

Hurley said she will miss the store and her customers, though, as a Ballard resident, she will still see them around the neighborhood.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed being here," she said.

06/18/2009
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Michael Harthorne

Best Regards on Market Street will close for good June 27 after 16 years in Ballard.

A report on the budgets of 13 U.S. cities, by the Pew Charitable Trusts, singles out Seattle as being “in the best fiscal situation," and by comparison, the report lists Detroit as in the worst situation.

“While we have our challenges, I’m not surprised that Seattle was singled out in the Pew report," said Mayor Greg Nickels in a statement. "We have faced adversity before in 2002. We cut deep then and grew smart, including building up our ‘rainy day fund’ to more than $30 million today. Our financial house is in good order and we will weather the current storm."

The report titled, “Tough Decisions and Limited Options: How Philadelphia and Other Cities are Balancing Budgets in a Time of Recession,” was issued on May 18.

It looks at the budgets in 13 cities: Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; New York; Phoenix; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and Seattle. The cities were chosen for either having something in common with Philadelphia or for providing a different perspective. Seattle was chosen to provide geographic diversity.

06/02/2009
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Image courtesy the Pew Charitable Trusts

According to a study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Seattle is in the best financial standing compar