Voters approved the levy for a third time, this time including funding for seniors in addition to veterans, the homeless and other vulnerable populations.
King County voters again approved a levy to fund services for veterans, the homeless and seniors Tuesday night, with 66 percent approval for the measure.
The levy will raise roughly $354 million over the next six years, double the size of the previous veterans and human services levies approved in 2005 and again in 2011. In that time, the levy has become a flexible funding source to address the county’s human-service needs, but this year, for the first time, King County officials decided to add spending on seniors to the funding package.
The last tax measure on the King County ballot — a sales tax to fund arts, cultural and science education — failed in the August primary. But there was no organized opposition to Proposition 1, and supporters campaigned on the increasing need for more affordable housing as the county continues to face a homelessness crisis and the region’s home prices remain on the rise.
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“This is clearly the voters of King County recognizing our obligation to those who have served our country, to those who’ve built the community, to make sure those people can live here securely and with dignity,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who also sailed to reelection Tuesday night.
At 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the tax will add about $45 more per year for a $450,000 home, the median assessed value in 2017, according to the King County assessor. Median housing values have since spiked in the subsequent months, so it is likely property owners will pay more than originally estimated.
Proposition 1 prioritizes services for veterans and their families; for seniors 55 and older and their caregivers; and for vulnerable populations, a broad category that includes the homeless, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, troubled youth and LGBT people.
At least half of the first-year levy proceeds must go toward providing housing stability to stave off homelessness for those three categories of people, an amount that later drops to 25 percent.
Since 2005, the levy has contributed money toward the creation of more than 2,000 affordable-housing units.
Other programs to be supported by the levy include mental-health services, a program for incarcerated veterans, legal assistance, a mobile medical van and employment services.
As with the previous versions of the veterans and human services levy, half of the money generated will be reserved for veterans services, but the amount for senior services gradually increases over time. Some of the initial funds are specifically tied to housing senior homeless veterans.
Nearly one in five King County residents are 60 or older, and about 60 percent of King County veterans are seniors 55 and older.
Although there was no organized opposition, two Metropolitan King County Council members raised concerns about voter tax fatigue.
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Vianna Davila: 206-652-6550 and firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @viannadavila