By Jack Mayne
Saving money on the SCORE jail facility and claiming money for affordable housing were on the SeaTac City Council’s agenda Tuesday (Oct. 8), along with a report on the city’s Kent-based fire and rescue service.
SCORE Jail cost changes
What is known as the SCORE Jail, the South Correctional Entity jail in Des Moines, will cost SeaTac taxpayers a bit less due to refiguring after Federal Way withdrew from the cooperative, but agreed to pay its share of the total cost of the jail from its own funds, reducing the amount for other city participants, including SeaTac.
Following the receipt of Federal Way’s notice of withdrawal, the jail administrative board assembled a sub-committee and contracted with the BERK Consulting firm to provide a comprehensive study of financial alternatives for SCORE, which included more money from the Washington Legislature.
The finance advisory group created a plan to restructure the budget and financing costs to reduce SeaTac’s contribution to SCORE for 2020 from $1.3 million to an estimated $784,000.
The Council voted to claim money that the Washington Legislature made available to cities which would provide new affordable housing revenue for cities that choose to participate. It allows SeaTac to take a credit against the state sales tax rate of 6.5 percent. It is estimated this will result in approximately $132,700 of revenue during the first year.
Since this is a sales tax credit and not an increase in the sales tax or a new tax, it will not result in added costs for consumers or residents of SeaTac. The funds can be used for maintenance of affordable housing that serves persons whose income is at or below 60 percent of average median income.
Funds may also be used for rental assistance to individuals at or below 60 percent average median income. The SeaTac human services division of the SeaTac Parks, Community Programs and Services Department currently operates programs that provides both of these forms of assistance.
Council was told of the recognition of the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Fire Chief Matt Morris told the Council the accreditation is part of a five-year process “which is a simple evaluation of what we are doing … having an outside third party reviewing, unbiased, review all aspects of our organization.”
“It provides a roadmap of how we maintain our services, how we are continuing to improve,” Morris said.