Review Bainbridge Island FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2014 | Vol. 114, No. 11 | www.BAINBRIDGEREVIEW.com | 75¢ ONE GREAT GOAL 10,000 smiles SPORTS PREVIEW: Spartans look to control their destiny in Metro. A12 Council OKs contract to overhaul city’s budget process Bainbridge begins move to use priority-based budgeting BY CECILIA GARZA Bainbridge Island Review Photo courtesy of Washington State Smile Partners Smile Partners’ dental hygienist Linda Olson screens Suquamish Elementary fourth-grader Awasis Williams during a visit to the girl’s school in January. Every year, Smile Partners comes to about 80 preschools and elementary schools in King and Kitsap counties, serving more than 5,000 students. Dental care nonprofit celebrates 10 years of serving low-income patients BY CECILIA GARZA Bainbridge Island Review When Kate Mills returned to her hometown of Bainbridge Island after working for several years as a direct access dental hygienist in California, she knew it was a type of dental practice she wanted to start up in Washington. “I saw what kind of difference it could make,” Mills said. “Dental care is a very under-appreciated need. There’s a certain attitude about it that isn’t always accurate.” Mills is the co-founder of Washington State Smile Partners, a Bainbridge-based organization that offers direct access, preventative dental care to low-income school children and seniors. It wasn’t easy. Mills moved back to Bainbridge just after the state of Washington passed laws to allow off-site dental care in schools and senior centers. Direct access dental care was still a budding practice in Washington. It hadn’t gathered much support yet and many private practitioners feared it threatened the industry. Nonetheless, Mills began building Smile Partners in 2004 along with fellow hygienist 10-year anniversary, Saturday, March 22. Over the years, the organization has Nan Bucklin-Hawkes. grown to serve some 6,000 patients in “It was pretty difficult when you’re a hygienist, and you don’t really have the 77 schools across Kitsap and King counties experience of running a where at least half of its stubusiness,” Mills said. dents receive free or reduced “I didn’t want it “We decided early lunches. It also now provides on that we wanted to services to several senior and to be a dash for the be a nonprofit,” Mills immigrant centers. money. I wanted it to explained. On a yearly basis, Smile be something that is Partners provides oral screen“I didn’t want it to be a dash for the money. I ings, cleanings, fluoride for the good of the wanted it to be something varnish applications, sealant community.” that is for the good of the placement, scalings, palliative Kate Mills care and temporary fillings. community.” Smile Partners Most important to their young First the two had to put foot to pavement, patients, they also provide oral with outreach efforts to health instruction. schools, principals and community groups. The organization’s purpose is to both Second, they had to purchase their own direct patients to private practices if addiequipment. tional work is needed and to altogether They mortgaged their houses, liquidated prevent tooth decay. their retirement funds and worked 70-plus “What we’ve learned is that if hours each week. we have a consistent presence in the It started out with just a few schools, but schools from year to year, we have the every year the organization grew. Fast forward to today, and the hard work has paid off. Smile Partners will be celebrating their turn to smileS | A18 The city’s budget will be recalculated in time for the 2015-2016 budget process, the Bainbridge city council decided Monday. Like many communities, for years Bainbridge’s budgeting process has consisted of simply modifying the previous year’s budget. This year, though, City Manager Doug Schulze said the city will conduct a complete overhaul of its budgeting process by partnering up with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting. “I think there are different levels of how cities have used a similar concept in the past, but this is really something that is a relatively new approach to budgeting for local governments,” Schulze said. With priority-based budgeting, the city will refocus its financial efforts to how people want their tax dollars spent in this community, Schulze said. In a unanimous vote, the council approved a $60,000 contract with the center. The consultant will work with city staff over the course of five to six months to define goals the city hopes to achieve for meeting community expectations. It will also develop a comprehensive list of city programs and services, identify the costs of those services and help prioritize each one accordingly. The consultant will additionally develop a web-based Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool for the city to help staff properly diagnose future symptoms and causes of a departmental budget issues. turn to council | A15 Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review Bainbridge Island Finance Director Ellen Schroer discusses the advantages of hiring a priority-based budgeting consultant in time for the city’s 20152016 budget process.