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Appeals court finds that tax formula for new King County youth jail is wrong

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/jseattle
King County Youth Services Center

A Washington state appeals court ruled Tuesday that King County has been improperly calculating the property taxes it’s using to fund a new courthouse and youth detention center.

It’s the latest legal ruling in the contentious battle over replacing the facility. 

King County plans to appeal the ruling to the Washington State Supreme Court. 

The group, End the Prison Industrial Complex, or EPIC, has filed several lawsuits over King County’s plans to build the Children and Family Justice Center.

The decision reverses part of a lower court ruling that challenged, among other things, the way the county was calculating property tax increases to fund the facility.

Attorney Knoll Lowney says the ruling means the county will have to stop collecting taxes based on this formula and that the money they hoped to have for the project is no longer there.

"If the county wants to bust a $200 million hole in the county budget, than it can keep moving those bull dozers. But as of now the county does not have money to fund this project," Lowney said.

It’s been nearly six years since voters approved Proposition 1 to fund the $210 million rebuild. But in its published findings, the court ruled that the language of the proposition didn’t authorize the county to use the increased tax in the first year for future years.

In a statement Anthony Wright, director of the King County Facilities Management Division, called the ruling technical. "King County's ballot title is consistent with state Department of Revenue guidelines for drafting language regarding levy lid lifts," Write wrote.