by Martin Barrett
Burien News, using information obtained by the “Public Request for Information” process, has estimated that the Burien DESC will cost the city nearly $133,000 in emergency services per year.
The estimate is based on the King County Fire District Budget and an average number of calls per room in five of DESC’s facilities. The KCFD does not keep track of call costs, nor does it break costs down by the station. Therefore the best we could do was to use the macro budget numbers and data to distill it down to something that makes rational sense.
When Burien DESC was first proposed, it was to be a 95-room facility for single men from King County. However, as an outcome of the settlement in a lawsuit John White brought against DESC, this policy appears to be changing and may include women and families. Generally, single men are more likely to participate in the highest-risk behaviors demanding more aid. If the Burien DESC is primarily men, the number presented here is understated.
The average DESC facility generates four 911 calls per room per year. That would put Burien DESC at 384 calls per year—just about one per day. If we take the total budget for King County Fire District 2 of $22,293,420 and divide it by the average number of 911 calls they received over the last 2 years, we come up with $464 per incident, plus the contracted dispatch service, which charges $50 per call. However, 22% of the total number of dispatches are for fire, which would cost more. So we estimated the average cost of a dispatched Medic 1 truck to be $300 plus the $50 call center fee. The total cost would be $350 for each response to Burien DESC. This brings us to a total of $132,877 per year with no terminus.
At several of the DESC facilities, the Medic 1 team will not enter the premises without a police escort going before them. We do not have the numbers currently to estimate that additional cost.
Additionally, according to a KCFD source, DESC facilities in Seattle account for 8 of the top 15 destinations for 911 calls.
Furthermore, we do not know what this added demand would do to police call wait times which are already long; holds of 20 minutes have been reported just to get an answer from the 911 dispatch service. In Burien police are required to respond to violent and life-threatening situations immediately. Wait times for non-violent and property crimes can be hours. How will this be effected?
The city of Burien will receive no tax revenue to offset these costs; ( a non-profit DESC is exempt.) Further, Burien waived the requirement that ground-floor retail space be designed into the building; therefore, Burien has relinquished potential sales tax revenue. The Burien DESC also received a variance on parking. This facility, with 95 rooms plus staff, will have three parking spaces.
If you have questions regarding this facility and the rationale used in bringing this to Burien, we suggest you contact the officials who voted to bring it in:
Another potential source of information regarding DESC would be Lena Pace. Ms. Pace was a member of the Planning Commission. She departed the commission as part of the mass resignations following disciplinary action against the then-Chair Charles Schaefer. Ms. Pace is employed by DESC as the Housing Compliance Associate, Quality and Information Management Department.