Voter education emphasized as deadline approaches

July 31, 2012

Elections administrators used the last days before the Aug. 7 primary to remind voters to follow proper ballot instructions.

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King County announces program to conserve rural land

July 25, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. July 25, 2012

King County and Seattle leaders unveiled a land-use program Tuesday similar to the successful Issaquah program used to conserve the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the program is meant to improve infrastructure in South Lake Union and preserve 25,000 acres of forests and farmland in rural areas.

“This is the definition of win-win,” McGinn said in a statement. “We will continue to concentrate growth in our urban neighborhoods, where the jobs are and where people want to live and work. In return we will receive important benefits for the city and permanently secure more rural areas as forests and working farms.”

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Press Editorial

July 24, 2012

Vote yes for juvenile justice center

At first glance, the Aug. 7 ballot request to build a new King County juvenile justice center might seem overly expensive at $200 million. While it is pricey, the proposed levy represents a good deal for King County taxpayers.

The juvenile justice center is where we hope few Issaquah families ever have to go. The center houses courtrooms where minors are tried, and a jail for underage offenders.

Calling current conditions poor is an understatement. The existing building is cramped. Designed decades ago, the courts and conference rooms are small and don’t meet today’s needs.

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King County voters to decide on funds for fingerprint services

July 23, 2012

NEW — 4:30 p.m. July 23, 2012

King County leaders put a measure on the November ballot to raise dollars for regional police fingerprint identification services.

The proposal is to fund operations and expansion in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, in operation through 2018. The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department.

The proposed renewal levy rate is 5.92 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $20.72 per year for a $350,000 home. The measure is expected to generate about $119 million overall through property tax revenue.

In a unanimous decision Monday, King County Council members agreed to place the measure on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The fingerprint system is managed by the King County Sheriff’s Office and provides services to county and local law enforcement agencies in King County. Investigators use the AFIS database to match fingerprints and palmprints to criminal suspects.

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Voters to decide dollars for juvenile justice center

July 17, 2012

King County voters could decide next month to increase the property tax rate in order to prepare the criminal justice system for the decades ahead.

The ballot measure Proposition 1 asks voters to approve a $200 million property tax levy to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle.

“We have a fairly good court system. We have a good prosecution office. We have good sheriff’s deputies. But this facility is the leak in the pipeline,” King County Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a July 13 interview. “For criminal justice to work effectively — especially with the increase in crime we’re seeing right now — all aspects of that pipeline need to be operating effectively.”

If the nine-year levy is passed, homeowners can expect to pay about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $20 per year for a home assessed at $350,000 in 2013.

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Turnout is expected to rise for August primary

July 17, 2012

The top elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Sam Reed, predicted above-average turnout in the August primary election — 46 percent, or about 3 percent more than the last comparable election.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

Reed made the turnout prediction July 12, about a week before ballots started to reach voters.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

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Landowners can receive tax incentives for creating public trail links

July 17, 2012

Landowners could receive tax incentives for allowing public access to trails to link to points of interest and existing public trails.

In a decision June 11, King County Council members approved implementation strategies to expand trail linkages through a program created in October 2010. The program expands the Public Benefit Rating System — a program for private landowners to receive incentives to conserve and protect land resources and open space.

“With more people throughout King County using trails for recreation and transportation, finding low-cost options for increasing access and connections to our trail system makes sense, especially for taxpayers,” Councilman Larry Phillips, trail legislation sponsor, said in a statement.

The system program provides incentives to encourage landowners to conserve land. In return for preserving and managing resources, the land is assessed at a value consistent with “current use” rather than the “highest and best use.”

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King County leaders laud fingerprint lab for international accreditation

July 17, 2012

NEW — 9 a.m. July 17, 2012

King County leaders recognized the Automated Fingerprint Identification System on Monday for achieving international accreditation.

The system provides criminal fingerprint identification services to law enforcement agencies throughout the county, including the Issaquah Police Department. The regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, received the accreditation for the Latent Print Unit.

The unit responds to major crime scenes and processes evidence in a lab by using chemicals, photography and other means to find fingerprints left at crime scenes. Investigators then enter the prints into the regional database to search for matches.

“AFIS is an invaluable law enforcement tool that plays a vital role in crime detection throughout the region,” Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “The system’s accreditation recognizes the expertise and knowledge of the county employees responsible for the operation of the program.”

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Ballots for August primary to reach voters soon

July 10, 2012

Ballots should start to arrive in King County voters’ mailboxes in the days ahead.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

In the 5th Legislative District, voters must narrow the field of Republican Chad Magendanz, Democrat David Spring and independent candidate Ryan Burkett in the race for a state House of Representatives seat.

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King County Flood Control District preserves dollars for salmon projects

June 19, 2012

Issaquah salmon-restoration projects could garner grant dollars after all, even though a lawsuit threatened to cut off funds for conservation projects countywide.

King County Flood Control District leaders decided to fund salmon-recovery projects after the King Conservation District stopped doling out grants amid a legal challenge.

Flood Control District officials approved $3 million May 14 for projects to improve water quality, protect and restore habitat, and support salmon recovery efforts. King County Council members sit as the executive board for the Flood Control District.

The decision is meant to plug a gap left after the King Conservation District halted a separate process to issue salmon-recovery grants. Read more

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