Reprioritization of property taxes to be addressed at special King County Council meeting

Monday, May 24, 2010

From King County Council Communications

Proposal would ask voters to reprioritize property taxes to protect criminal justice

King County faces a $60 million budget deficit for 2011 and unless an additional revenue source is found, vital criminal justice services may be eliminated. A proposal to address this criminal justice budget crisis will be taken up during a special Metropolitan King County Council meeting Tuesday, May 25 at 9:30 am in the Council Chambers,10th floor, King County Courthouse, 516 Third Avenue, Seattle.

The meeting will also be carried LIVE on King County TV, Comcast and Broadstripe Cable channel 22, and streaming online .

Council Chair Bob Ferguson, who represents Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, sent out notice of the special meeting this morning.

The proposed legislation would allow voters to determine whether they want to reduce the amount of property taxes being levied for special county programs, and reprioritize those taxes for criminal justice purposes.

The levy would sunset after nine years.

The effect of the proposed legislation would be two-fold. First, it would require voters to approve the reduction, not elimination, of the following property taxes:

· Flood control;
· Conservation futures programs;
· The county automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS), and;
· The 2007 parks expansion levy.

Additionally, the legislation would require the repeal of the 2011 and 2012 King Conservation District Special Assessment and require the reprioritization of funds from the unincorporated area levy. Specifically, the unincorporated area levy funds that are currently used for roads projects would be reprioritized for police protection purposes.

Second, the proposed legislation asks voters to authorize a property tax levy of $0.16 per $1,000 of assessed value (approximately $64 on a $400,000 home) to fund criminal justice services. These services include police protection, offender incarceration, court services, prosecution and defense services, domestic violence and sexual assault services, and legal assistance. Funding would also be provided for a capital project to replace the Youth Services Center in downtown Seattle which serves the justice needs of King County juveniles and families.

If approved, the net impact of the reductions and newly authorized property tax levy would be $34 on a $400,000 home (an addition of $0.085 per $1,000 of assessed value).

A public hearing will be held at Tuesday’s meeting, where two proposed ordinances will be considered. The ordinances are identical except that one contains language to place the proposal before the voters in August and the other ordinance contains language to place the proposal on the November ballot.


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