Leaders offer support to renew levy for veterans services

March 9, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 5 p.m. March 9, 2011

The effort to renew a King County veterans and human services levy in November cleared a key hurdle Wednesday.

Members of the County Council Regional Policy Committee — comprised of council members, Seattle City Council members and Suburban Cities Association representatives — offered unanimous support to legislation to put the levy renewal to voters.

The legislation heads to the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee for further consideration.

“The veterans and human services levy is dedicated to improving the lives of those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for our safety,” County Councilman Bob Ferguson, the prime sponsor of both the proposed renewal and the original legislation in 2005, said in a statement.

(Ferguson is also a candidate for state attorney general.)

“The levy invests in critical services for our veterans and our families in need across all of King County,” he continued. “These investments are needed more than ever during these tough economic times.”

The committee also endorsed a plan to continue the levy for another six years at the existing rate: 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The proposal does not include additional taxes.

“The support for the levy is a reflection of the commitment of our citizens to the service of veterans in our region,” County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, a military veteran, said in a statement.

Voters approved the initial levy in 2005. In order for the levy to continue, the council must agree to place the measure on the November ballot in 2011 and a majority of the electorate must support the proposal.

“The public overwhelmingly supported this levy because of the known need 6 years ago,” County Councilman Joe McDermott said in a statement. “The levy’s programs have been very successful, yet the need continues so I am very supportive of continuing the existing veterans and human services levy.”

The measure is expected to generate about $14.5 million per year — half of the money is to be dedicated for veterans programs and the other half is to be used for general human services programs.

“I strongly support the renewal of this levy so it can continue to reach veterans and families in need throughout the region, including rural areas, like Snoqualmie,” Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Lawson said in a statement.

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