City Council considers support for fingerprint measure

August 28, 2012

City Council members could decide to support a King County property tax measure to generate dollars for police fingerprint services.

Before the council acts, citizens can offer input on the proposal at a public hearing. The council meets to consider the measure at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

The property tax levy, Proposition 1, appears on the November ballot. The measure is meant to fund the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, a regional police fingerprint identification service. Issaquah officers used information from AFIS 2,100 times last year.

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.

Voters could decide dollars for Eastside Fire & Rescue, emergency services

August 21, 2012

The source of dollars underpinning emergency response agencies throughout King County — including Eastside Fire & Rescue — is poised to go before voters next year.

In late July, leaders from the county, cities and emergency response agencies recommended a six-year renewal for the countywide Medic One/EMS levy. The existing levy is due to expire Dec. 31, 2013, and the task force urged leaders to put the property tax measure on the ballot again.

The annual property tax levy provided almost $1.4 million for the 2012 EFR budget. The amount each agency receives is derived through a formula based on assessed values and call volumes in the agency’s service area.

“It’s very important” as a funding source, EFR Deputy Chief Bud Backer said Aug. 2.

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State property tax revenue tops $9 billion

August 21, 2012

Statewide property tax revenue increased 1.6 percent, or $143 million, to $9.3 billion in 2012, state Department of Revenue officials reported late last month.

The agency attributed $37 million of increased revenue from 2011 to construction.

The average assessed value for a single-family residence statewide dropped from $243,998 to $229,908 — and the average tax fell $10 to $2,708. King County is home to the highest average assessed value ($350,975) and average tax ($3,992) in the state.

Garfield County reported the lowest in both categories — $66,141 for average assessed value and $682 for average tax.

State officials said about 40 percent of property taxes result from voter-approved local levies and bonds and levy lid lifts for local taxing jurisdictions.

Election includes ‘lots of great races’ for voters to decide

August 4, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 4, 2012

The top elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Sam Reed, urged strong turnout in the upcoming primary election.

Ballots must be postmarked or slipped into a designated ballot drop box by Tuesday.

The summer primary — bumped up 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 Issaquah area, voters must select the top candidates for state House of Representatives and U.S. House of Representatives seats, in addition to selecting hopefuls for judicial and statewide posts.

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Countywide fingerprinting service aids Issaquah Police Department

July 31, 2012

Voters to decide funding for crime-solving tool in November

City corrections officers at the Issaquah City Jail use a King County-backed fingerprinting tool to identify every inmate behind bars.

The tool is a useful component in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, a regional police fingerprint identification service. Issaquah officers used information from AFIS 2,100 times last year to determine if a jail inmate is evading a warrant, concealing a criminal record or using a false identity.

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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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