King County veterans levy appears on Aug. 16 ballot

August 5, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

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King County leaders and advocates for veterans called on voters last month to approve a county veterans-and-human-services levy, Proposition 1, in the August primary election.

The electorate approved the initial levy — 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to fund programs for veterans and social service efforts — on the 2005 ballot, and the measure is up for renewal Aug. 16.

County Councilman Bob Ferguson sponsored the original legislation in 2005 and the current proposal.

“Across the political spectrum, my colleagues on the County Council unanimously support continuing the vital work of the Veterans and Human Services Levy,” Ferguson said in a statement issued July 27. “We are asking voters, not to increase taxes, but rather to renew their commitment through the existing levy to provide critical services for veterans, their families, and those in need.”

Newcastle’s representative, Councilman Reagan Dunn, served as a cosponsor of the legislation. The council agreed in a unanimous decision May 2 to place the levy renewal on the August ballot.

The proposal matches the existing levy and does not include additional taxes. The ballot measure specifies for levy growth to be tied to inflation. So, the owner of a home assessed at $340,000 should pay $17 in 2012 under the levy, county estimates show.

The measure enjoys broad support among county leaders and nonprofit organizations in the human services field. Several city councils and the Suburban Cities Association — a nonprofit group representing 37 King County municipalities, including Newcastle — endorsed Proposition 1. Nobody submitted a statement opposing the levy in the primary Voters’ Guide.

The existing levy provides funding for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, job training and employment assistance for veterans, and emergency financial assistance for veterans and military personnel to pay for rent, food, utilities, medical needs and burial costs.

“It is important that we send a message to our citizen-soldiers everywhere that we are honoring and supporting them as they have honored and supported us,” Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, a veteran and a levy supporter, said in a statement.

The social services portion funds expanded mental health services at 22 primary care clinics and improved safety for children in the dependency system through the Family Treatment Court — a gateway to drug and alcohol treatment for parents.

Linda Rasmussen, landlord liaison program director for YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish, said the initial levy proved successful.

“The veterans-and-human-services levy has made it possible to open the local housing market to over 700 formerly homeless households with unique tools and services,” she said.

Like the existing levy, the renewal legislation proposes allocating half of the money for veterans programs and the other half for general human services programs. The current levy expires Dec. 31.

Supporters said the initial levy in 2005 proved successful. The measure received support from 58 percent of voters then.

“Our veterans should not have to come home to homelessness,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “This levy has a proven record of changing life for the better for thousands of local veterans, their families, and others in need, and I urge voters to renew it.”


Register to vote

Aug. 8 is the deadline to register to vote for the Aug. 16 primary election.

Voters can register in person at King County Elections from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at 919 S.W. Grady Way, Renton.

If a voter misses the deadline to register for the Aug. 16 election, he or she can register for the November general election. The deadline for registration online and by mail is Oct. 10. The deadline to register in person is Oct. 31.

“Every election brings interesting and important choices, but you need to be registered to vote,” Elections Director Sherril Huff said in a statement. “Voters who are already registered can help us make sure their ballots reach them and help lower election costs just by keeping their addresses up to date.”

Residents can also head to the elections office for a self-guided tour to observe the election process in action. The office recommends 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Aug. 19 as the best times for viewing, or 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Aug. 16.

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