News

Second human aid levy in the works

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

The Metropolitan King County Council's Budget and Fiscal Management Committee last week forwarded a proposal to the full Council to raise the property tax by 4.1 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to increase the amount of funding available for veterans and their families.

And in a nod to human services providers, who protested the measure, saying voters might balk at a general human services property tax increase next year if they just passed one this year, committee members also cosponsored legislation to send a general human services levy to voters in 2006.

The 2006 general human services levy measure, which is still preliminary, would double this year's proposed levy rate, generating an estimated $21.4 million annually to provide services for King County's general population of low-income residents.

But the bipartisan measure approved for this November's ballot would focus strictly on veterans services, increasing the trickle of revenue flowing into the county's Veterans Relief Fund, which currently receives eight-tenths of a penny per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The 4.1-cent levy, expected to generate $10.7 million annually, would provide King County's 180,000 veterans and their families with access to services like post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, specialized employment assistance, homelessness prevention, mental health counseling and substance abuse prevention and treatment.

The measure is expected to appear before the full County Council Monday. If the Council passes the proposed legislation, the levy will appear before voters on the November ballot.

King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, who represents the south King County area, supported the levy proposal.

"We have a significant veteran population in south King County, and whether through anecdotes or polling, clearly a significant portion of our poor in south King County are veterans," he said. "I can't think of a better time then when the men and women in uniform are providing security and safety ... they're at risk domestically and internationally on behalf of Americans, and previous veterans are among the highest percentage of homeless people in south King County."

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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