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County Council sends “Best Start for Kids” initiative to the voters


Proposed levy measure to be on November ballot


The Metropolitan King County Council today approved sending to the voters in November a six-year property tax levy to fund the Best Starts for Kids initiative.

“Best Starts for Kids is the most progressive legislation I have worked on in my career,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott. “Best Starts for Kids will fund preventive and other services for families, kids, and communities.”

“Best Starts for Kids builds off the work of the Youth Action Plan and would provide the funding necessary to implement many of the Plan’s recommendations,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski.

Best Start for Kids, proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine, would be a prevention-oriented regional plan aimed at supporting the healthy development of children and youth, families and communities across the county. Funding would focus on providing services early in a child's life—with the heaviest focus on pregnancy and children from birth through age 5—and continuing services during a young person's development through age 24.

“Investing in proven prevention strategies is the most effective way for children and youth to build the life skills needed for success,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “For that reason, I am pleased to vote to place the Best Starts for Kids levy on the ballot to give voters the opportunity to provide all children in King County with these resources, regardless of economic background.”

“The voters will have the final word on how we will respond to the challenges facing young people throughout Martin Luther King, Jr. County,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett.

“I’m excited that the citizens of King County will have the opportunity to vote to fund prevention and intervention measures for kids,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, Chair the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee. “If approved, this revenue will be used to support programs for kids all over King County.”

If approved by the voters, $19 million in levy proceeds would support a youth and family homelessness prevention initiative and the remaining proceeds would be distributed to the following four categories:

• 50 percent for strategies focused on children from birth to five years old and their caregivers, pregnant women and for individuals or families concerning pregnancy,
• 35 percent for strategies focused on children and youth ages five through twenty-four years old,
• 10 percent to support communities in improving the health, social and economic outcomes of residents in partnership with The Seattle Foundation, and
• 5 percent for evaluation and data collection activities and activities to improve program and service delivery.

Of the proceeds focused on children from birth to five years old, the Best Starts for Kids levy would dedicate at least $42.8 million to allow Public Health – Seattle & King County to continue providing parent-child health services, such as the Nurse Family Partnership home visiting program and Maternity Support Services.

If approved by voters, the levy lid lift would be levied at a rate of $0.14 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2016, with an increase of three percent for each of the five subsequent years of the levy—2017 through 2021. The levy is projected to generate a total of approximately $392.3 million in revenues to fund the Best Starts for Kids initiative and is estimated to cost the owner of a $400,000 home in King County approximately $56 per year in additional property taxes.

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