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King County levy seeks tax increase to replace juvenile justice center

In the Aug. 7 primary election, King County asks voters to approve a property tax levy that would help pay to replace the King County Youth Services Center in Seattle.

Proposition 1 refers to the Children and Family Services Center Capital Levy. The measure asks taxpayers to authorize a 7-cent increase for every $1,000 in property tax values. That amounts to about $14 a year on a home worth $200,000. The levy would collect the money for nine years, starting in 2013.

The Youth Services Center handles juvenile offenders and court cases related to child abuse and abandonment. The levy would replace three aging buildings located at 12th Avenue and East Alder Street on a 9.5-acre site near Seattle University.

The levy requires a simple majority — at least 50 percent plus one vote — to pass.

According to the Seattle Times, about $1.5 million is spent annually on maintenance at the facility, which is plagued with plumbing, ventilation and electrical problems.

Supporters say the current facilities are outdated, and that replacement of the facility is the least expensive long-term solution. A new facility will better serve children and families, according to the pro statement in the voters pamphlet.

"A new building will end wasteful repairs and provide efficient, compassionate service delivery — saving money and lives," the pro statement reads.

The Municipal League of King County endorsed the levy, calling it a "time-limited and reasonable property tax" that is "dedicated to a much-needed essential government facility."

Opponents say the levy is problematic in a time when property taxes are already too high.

"Many homeowners already are struggling to meet financial obligations and don't need another property tax increase," according to the con statement in the voters pamphlet.

An opposition essay in the Seattle Times said the levy replaces buildings but "does nothing to address the costly systemic problems with juvenile justice in King County."

To see the voters pamphlet, click here.

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