May 2, 2012, Vol: 19, No: 18
The King County Council hopes that when voters hear about the decrepit state of the juvenile justice center, they’ll agree to pay higher property taxes to fund major renovations.
In a unanimous vote, county councilmembers approved a ballot measure that seeks to increase property taxes for nine years, in an effort to raise $200 million for the construction of the King County Children and Family Justice Center in the Central District. The levy request will be placed on the August primary ballot.
The levy would institute a nine-year tax of seven cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. A King County home valued at $300,000 would be taxed $21 a year.
In order for the levy to pass, 50 percent of voters, plus one extra voter, have to approve it. The new justice center would replace the current county Youth Services Center located at 12th Avenue and Alder Street. The existing facility’s buildings, some of which are 60 years old, are in a state of decay: malfunctioning sewer system, broken water lines, inoperable air conditioning units.
The center also lacks private meeting rooms, which forces families and attorneys into hallways or lobbies to discuss personal details of cases. The 9.1-acre site houses the juvenile court, the juvenile detention administration and a dormitory for juveniles in short-term custody.
Revenue from the levy would fund the replacement of three buildings on the site, along with allowing for the construction of 10 new courtrooms. New dormitories could house up to 154 juveniles. Currently, the facility houses an average daily population of close to 70 young people.
A new center would place new structures toward the center of the property, giving the county the opportunity to sell off residual downtown land. According to staff for County Councilmember Larry Gossett, the land has an estimated value of $16.5 million.<< Back to Article Details