An unexpected gift of a quarter-million dollars sealed the deal. King County Council members weren't sure they wanted to establish a "citizen...

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An unexpected gift of a quarter-million dollars sealed the deal.

King County Council members weren’t sure they wanted to establish a “citizen councilor network” of small discussion groups proposed in Initiative 24 if it would mean staff costs of $130,000 more a year.

But when the initiative’s author, Dick’s Drive-In co-founder Dick Spady, said Tuesday he would pay the cost for two years, the council jumped on board.

A final vote is scheduled for Friday, but the 5-2 vote of the council’s committee-of-the-whole suggests the measure will pass easily, and there will be no need for a vote of the people on Nov. 6.

Spady already had offered to contribute $50,000 for the first year of operation — the same amount he planned to put into a campaign for I-24 if the council put it on the November ballot. He asked the council to adopt the proposal rather than send it to voters.

Described by Spady, 83, as a blueprint for “easy citizen involvement,” the initiative would recruit citizens to join small groups that would study issues and provide input to the County Council and county executive.

County Auditor Cheryle Broom estimated it would cost $130,000 for her staff to help set up and oversee the citizen network, which Spady has been promoting at the state and local levels for decades.

Spady said he was “elated” by the council action: “It’s a first step for the people of King County to move forward a new way to enhance citizen participation, civic engagement and citizenship education.”

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com