As Dom mentioned in the morning news, King County officials, led by council member Bob Ferguson, are proposing a $200 million property-tax levy to rebuild King County's Juvenile Court buildings, which I described last year as, "toxic, cramped, and falling apart."
If the measure is approved by the KC Council—which I'm assuming it will be, as replacing the 60-year-old facilities has been a KC Council priority for years—voters will then be asked on the August ballot to approve a nine-year property tax levy lid lift of seven cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which amounts to $25 annually per median homeowner. The levy would raise approximately $200 million for construction of the new Children and Family Justice Center, which would replace three decrepit buildings on the current 12th and Alder Central District site: the 60-year-old Alder Wing, Alder Tower, and the Youth Detention Facility, which houses up to 65 youth at a time.
And voters should approve the levy—the facilities are about as safe for kids as an electric eel fishery. In some hallways, it perpetually smells as if someone took a shit in their hands and then clapped. "It's not a functional building," Judge Helen L. Halpert, told me during an interview last year. "It's filthy, it's decaying, and it sends an evil message to the primarily poor people who we see: 'You just don't matter.'"
Regardless of its structural hang-ups, the court is a national model for its juvenile diversion program, which keeps many first- and second-time youth offenders out of the court system by offering them community service, fines, or counseling in lieu of a criminal record.
The county's juvenile diversion programs have reduced the average juvenile detention population by 56 percent since 1998.
But the last time voters had a chance to safe the buildings (and our troubled youth!) with 2010's Proposition 1, a small sales-tax hike that would've raise $150 million to replace the decaying buildings on site (while funding other public safety services), voters rejected the measure.
So the question is, will they bite this time around? (My answer: They fucking should.)