Kent Environmental Council (KEC) supports the passage of Issue 11 on Nov. 6, and urges Kent citizens to do the same. Issue 11 asks voters to make an investment in their safety services by approving a 0.25 percent income tax levy that would generate about $1.3 million annually. This revenue will go to capital improvements only, not operating expenses or maintenance.
Built in 1924, the 88-year-old building has had several additions and repairs made as the need for city services grew. KEC members who toured the building on Sept. 29 saw where a section of roof had collapsed in 2010, leading to an expensive repair. They also saw an aging building that is not compliant with many state-mandated standards and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Electrical and fire safety conditions are noncompliant, and HVAC and plumbing facilities are inadequate.
In the time that this building has existed, great improvements have been made in building methods and materials. Buildings today are far more efficient, use less energy, are less likely to be "sick buildings," and are generally a lower impact on the environment than buildings such as the current safety building. Especially those buildings built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards have a very low impact on the environment and meet high levels of efficiency.
The estimated cost to bring the building up to those standards is $12 million. The estimated cost to build a new facility in the same vicinity using green building standards and lowering operating costs is $14 million. The complete package, which includes land acquisition, site preparation and demolition of the old structure is $18 million.
Kent city income tax is paid only on earned income — salaries, wages, commissions, and the like. The increase would not affect those living on fixed income, such as retirees.
For all of these reasons, Kent Environmental Council recommends a "Yes" vote on Kent Issue 11, for a new safety services building to be built to LEED standards.
Lisa Regula Meyer
KEC Executive Chair