Voters overwhelmingly renew Veterans and Human Services Levy

September 2, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

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The popular Veterans and Human Services Levy garnered overwhelming support from King County voters Aug. 16, as the electorate renewed the measure through 2017.

The levy is expected to generate about $100 million for programs to aid veterans and needy residents. The funding is split 50-50 between veterans programs and human services efforts.

“The citizens of King County have demonstrated their respect for our veterans and compassion for our neighbors most in need by voting to renew the Veterans and Human Services Levy,” County Executive Dow Constantine, a levy supporter, said in a statement Aug. 16.

“I thank the voters for approving the levy and showing, once again, that King County is an extraordinary community in which to live.”

The measure, Proposition 1, garnered more than 60 percent of the vote in the initial results King County Elections. The final votes won’t be official until the elections office certifies them.

The measure garnered broad support from human services organizations and advocates for veterans. The county Voters’ Guide, in fact, did not include any statements opposing Proposition 1. Even the County Council put the measure on the ballot in a unanimous decision.

Voters approved the initial Veterans and Human Services Levy — 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value — to fund programs for veterans and social service efforts in 2005.

Proposition 1 matches the existing levy and does not include additional taxes. The owner of a home assessed at $340,000 is expected to pay $17 in 2012 under the levy renewal.

Countywide, the levy funds programs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder — a common affliction among veterans returning from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq — and emergency housing for veterans.

The day after the election, levy administrators released a draft plan for managing dollars generated through the levy renewal.

“King County voters again demonstrated their support for providing critical services for our veterans and others in need,” County Councilman Bob Ferguson, sponsor of Proposition 1 and the initial levy in 2005, said in a statement on Election Day. “The Veterans and Human Services Levy is a small investment with a huge impact. It provides essential services that help our veterans and strengthen our families, from employment training and housing to PTSD counseling.”

Newcastle-area County Councilman Reagan Dunn cosponsored the legislation to put Proposition 1 on the August ballot.

“Ten years into the war on terror, we are seeing the demand for veterans services increase significantly. It is estimated that there will be 2 million veterans coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who served in some capacity,” he said in a statement. “I thank the voters for valuing the sacrifice of our returning veterans.”

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