Proposed ballot measure would renew existing levy, set to expire in 2011
StoryMetropolitan King County Councilmembers Bob Ferguson, Pete Von Reichbauer, and Reagan Dunn today proposed a renewal of the successful Veterans and Human Services Levy. The legislation is the first step toward maintaining critical funding for veterans and other King County residents when the current levy expires at the end of 2011.
“The Veterans and Humans Services levy honors our veterans and helps thousands of King County residents,” said Councilmember Ferguson, the prime sponsor of both the renewal and the original legislation that sent the Veterans and Human Services levy to the ballot in 2005. “During this recession, the critical services provided by the levy are needed more than ever.”
“The success of the Veterans and Human Service levy is a reflection of the commitment of our citizens to our veterans who have served us so well,” said Pete Lewis, Mayor of Auburn and a veteran. “We must continue to honor our troops as they come home to us.”
Ferguson was joined by Councilmembers Pete Von Reichbauer and Reagan Dunn in proposing to renew the levy for an additional six years at the current rate of 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. No new taxes are included in the proposal.
“The Veterans and Human Services Levy has been opening doors to housing, treatment and support services for aging and returning veterans and other individuals and families in need across the county since 2005,” said Councilmember von Reichbauer, the only member of the Council who is a veteran. “It is important that we do everything we can as a community to help serve those who have served us, because there is no greater calling for the citizens of this country than to look after and care for those brave individuals who have served under our flag and sacrificed themselves to protect us.”
“The Veterans and Human Services Levy has helped many people, including many veterans, over the last five years,” said Councilmember Dunn. “While the county is being forced to eliminate human services from its general fund budget, we must maintain this modest funding source. It is the least we can do to honor the sacrifice of our returning heroes.”
In 2005, 58 percent of County voters approved the original 6-year Veterans and Human Services levy of 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Approximately $13 million a year is generated by the levy. One half of the proceeds are dedicated exclusively for programs to assist veterans and their families. The other half support general human service programs available to all King County residents.
The proposed renewal sets the same rate as the original Levy and requires the same 50 percent distribution of funds for veterans and their families. For the owner of a $400,000 home, the annual cost of the levy is approximately $20.
In the last 6 years, the Levy has provided funding for critical veterans’ services including:
• A 45 percent increase in the number of shelter beds available for homeless veterans,
• Increased treatment services for veterans and families dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
• New veterans housing projects in Bellevue, Renton and Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood,
• The Veterans Incarcerated Project, which reduces the recidivism of incarcerated veterans.
The Levy has also provided key funding for general human service program, including:
• Family Treatment Court which improves the safety and well being of children in the dependency system by providing access to drug and alcohol treatment for parents and judicial monitoring of sobriety,
• Integrating mental health and chemical dependency services into 22 primary care clinics throughout the county,
• Expansion of the Nurse Family Partnership program which provides education and intensive support for first time, low-income pregnant women and mothers age 23 and under,
• 24/7 expansion of the Emergency Service Patrol which provides transportation, sobering, and intensive case management services to homeless chronic substance abusers in the downtown Seattle area.
The 2005 Veterans and Human Services Levy is set to expire on December 31, 2011. In order for the Levy to continue, the County Council must vote to place renewal of the Levy on the ballot in 2011 and a majority of King County voters must support it.
The Council referred the levy renewal ordinance to the Regional Policy Committee. The legislation will then move to the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.