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Don't forget to vote on these key levies

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Photo courtesy of King County Elections
Photo courtesy of King County Elections

This week is your last chance to vote in King County's 2023 elections, so if you haven't already, grab a pen and fill in your ballot! There are over 70 drop boxes in King County, mostly at libraries and municipal buildings.

Voters can also drop their ballots in the mail for free (the postage is prepaid) or vote in person at one of six voting centers: Bellevue City Hall, Federal Way City Hall, Kenmore City Hall, Kent Centennial Center, the King County Elections Office, and the Lumen Field Event Center. Voters who have not registered can do so at these in-person voting centers and vote that same day.

Levies, levies
There are a lot of levies on this year's ballot to look into. The city of Kirkland has one to increase property taxes to fund parks and recreation programs, green spaces, and community centers. This includes funding for park rangers, beach lifeguards, maintenance workers, and teen services. The city also hopes to erect a new indoor aquatic center with lap pools, a gym, classrooms, and community spaces. If passed, this levy should bring in about $10,800,000; the average cost for homeowners (with a $1,000,000 home) should be about $280 a year.

Earlier this year, the Maple Valley City Council passed a measure to increase funding for public safety services. If approved by voters, this levy will increase property taxes to generate $2,200,000 for neighborhood safety patrols, traffic enforcement, a school resource officer, and crime prevention programs. This increase would cost the average homeowner about $212 a year. The city is asking voters to approve this measure to keep up with inflation and increased labor costs. These funds will be restricted to the police budget only. If the levy does not pass, the city expects budget cuts in 2025.

The Seattle City Council, along with Mayor Bruce Harrell, passed a measure earlier this year that will now appear on the ballot. It will replace the previous Seattle Housing Levy and continue to provide services for low-income households and people experiencing homelessness. Half of this levy funding will help households earning less than 30% of the city's median income. This will increase property taxes in Seattle and allow the city to bring in up to $138,608,596. The levy includes several programs that focus on preserving affordable homes and providing emergency assistance to prevent low-income households from slipping into homelessness.

Enumclaw School District is asking to issue $103,000,000 in general-obligation bonds to build a new early-learning and elementary school to replace Byron Kibler Elementary. The Fife School District also wants approval of general-obligation bonds, though it's seeking $204,800,000 to replace Fife High School, the athletic field, and the stadium. The Skykomish School District is looking to replace an expiring levy and asking voters to approve a new one that will bring in $75,000 for collection until 2027.

The Kent School Board is looking to replace an expiring levy this year, which would affect property taxes in the district for the three coming years. If passed, it can expect to bring in $85,8000,000 by 2027. These funds will pay for school operations that are not state-funded, including arts, athletics, extracurriculars, special education, school safety, and more. The school district also has a second levy on the ballot, which will collect up to $64,900,000 through 2027 for building maintenance and internet access.

The King County Fire Protection District No. 27 is asking for an increased levy to keep up with rising inflation. It hopes to establish a regular property tax rate of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation, claiming that increased funding to the department is essential to continue services in the growing community.

The Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue Department had its current levy rate reduced due to a limitation on property tax increases. It is now hoping to get a levy passed that will return the budget to a $1-per-$1,000 rate to ensure that it can continue to provide services.

The Valley Regional Fire Authority is looking for voters to approve the issuing of $96,500,000 in bonds for the construction and furnishing of two new fire stations, the reconstruction of an existing station, and the reconstruction of training grounds. If approved, this bond will be paid back over the next 20 years through annual property taxes.

The Si View Metropolitan Park District hopes to get voters to approve funding for a new pool in North Bend, which will replace the 85-year-old Si View Pool, built in 1938. The new pool will include lap lanes, learn-to-swim areas, recreation programs, fitness programs, and zero-depth accessible entry areas for people with disabilities. It will also have changing rooms, classrooms, restrooms, offices, and storage spaces.

There are so many exciting new measures to vote for (or against) on the 2023 ballot! There are city council positions up for grabs in 39 cities (including Seattle), mayoral races, and King County Council seats up for grabs.

Your vote is your voice — don't forget to use it!