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Port trims taxes after I-722 passes

"Taxes were trimmed slightly by the Port of South Whidbey commissioners Wednesday night in response to the Nov. 7 election results.Voters approved Initiative 722, which caps tax increases by local taxing districts to a maximum of 2 percent annually. In response, commissioner Jan Smith, Gene Sears and Jim Hawley changed the port's 2001 budget to reflect the new law.Chuck Edwards, port accountant, said the 2001 budget had anticipated a property tax hike of 2.61 percent, which was the limit prior to the approval of I-722. That was based on something called the implicit price deflator, which is akin to the cost of living increase.Instead, the commissioners cut the increase to 2 percent. The minuscule tax decrease isn't expected to impact port revenues much, if at all. Edwards said taxes resulting from new construction could make up the slight difference. The port's tax levy for 2001 now stands at $330,807, up 2 percent from this year.On another matter, the commissioners approved spending $10,150 for new lighting at Freeland Park, which the port jointly operates with Island County. County Public Works provided the engineering for the project and made sure it follows all codes, including the recently-adopted lighting ordinance. Smith, board president, said the old park light was garish, and was deactivated due in part to complaints from the neighborhood.The new lighting will consist of three lights on 20-foot poles to be installed. One will be near the boat ramp, one near the restroom and adjacent parking lot, and one at the handicap parking area. In accordance with the county ordinance, the lights will be low voltage, non-glaring, and will be restricted to park property. No light will hit the water, so reflected light will not be a problem.In recent weeks the park has been almost totally dark at night. Smith anticipates the new lights will be installed in January. "

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