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Council sends proposed levy increase for construction of Children and Family Justice Center to August ballot


If approved, funds to be used for construction of facility to replace County Youth Center


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved sending to the voters in August a nine-year property tax levy lid lift proposal to raise revenue for the construction of the Children and Family Justice Center. The new facility would replace the County’s aging Youth Services Center located at 12th and Alder in Seattle’s Central District.

“With the Council’s approval, this measure to construct a new Children and Family Justice Center will head to the August ballot for a vote of the people,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, who sponsored the proposal.

“The measure would replace the existing the aging Youth Services Center with a Children & Family Justice Center,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “The current facility forces families to have intimate and personal conversations with their attorney without privacy, conditions not conducive to justice.”

“I am pleased the Council took the important first step of putting the replacement of the Alder facility on the August ballot,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The voters of King County will have the final word as to whether we proceed with the plan to replace the county’s aging juvenile facility.”

“It’s now up to the voters to determine the fate of the aging Youth Services Center,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “The question of whether or not to replace this facility with a new Children and Family Justice Center impacts kids and families seeking justice in King County.”

“The King County Youth Center is a building that has served its useful life,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “I support sending the proposal to build a new Children and Family Justice Center to the voters of King County.”

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

The Youth Services Center is the County’s central facility for cases involving children, which are among the most stressful for families—juvenile offender cases, child abandonment, abuse and neglect cases, and cases involving runaways. Here, court officers must decide whether a child should be removed from their home or whether a minor should be detained for committing an offense. Emotions can run high, and the Center provides support for families navigating the juvenile justice system.

The adopted legislation would ask voters to approve a nine-year property tax levy lid lift of seven cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which would raise approximately $200 million for construction of the Children and Family Justice Center. The cost to the median homeowner in King County would be less than $25 per year.

The revenue from the proposal would replace the three buildings on site—the Alder Tower, Alder Wing, and Youth Detention Facility. Five judges and 2 commissioners at the juvenile court handle 3,700 cases a year in the facility. The annual average daily population in the facility is approximately 70 individuals.

Sections of the facility are over 60 years old and have significant maintenance needs. By replacing all three of the buildings, the County also has the opportunity to reduce the size of its foot print on the 9.1 acre site located in the urban core of Seattle.

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