King County voters to decide $200 million levy for juvenile detention facility

April 16, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

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NEW — 4:45 p.m. April 16, 2012

King County Council members decided Monday to put a $200 million property tax levy to construct a juvenile detention facility on the August ballot.

The proposal is to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle. The facility is a collection of decaying buildings constructed in the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. Officials deemed the electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems as beyond repair.

Judges and commissioners at the juvenile court on site handle 3,700 cases per year at the detention facility. The complex houses about 65 children and teenagers from throughout the county.

If the nine-year levy is placed on the ballot and passed, homeowners should pay about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $20 per year for a home assessed at $350,000.

In unanimous decision, council members placed the measure on the ballot. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Councilwoman Kathy Lambert joined Ferguson and councilmen Larry Gossett and Joe McDermott to introduce the legislation.

“The issue of building a new Family Youth and Justice Center in Seattle is now in the hands of the voters,” Councilman Reagan Dunn, Newcastle’s representative on the board, said in a statement. “I urge the public to take a close look at the ballot measure and make an informed decision on this important levy.”

In the existing facility, county officials spent millions addressing ongoing mold and moisture lingering from a 2006 flood. In 2010, officials suspended court operations at the facility after a water main broke outside the building.

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