Letters to the Editor

Prop. 1 is excessive taxation | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Prop. 1 would increase the existing property tax levy above the current yearly increase limit of 1 percent, plus new construction value.

It would increase the current expense part of your property tax bill from 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 75 per $1,000 of assessed value. That is almost a 50-percent increase in that part of your tax bill. That would total approximately $2,537.50 in taxes during the first year for a property assessed for $350,000. That’s more than $200 per month.

The 2012-15 property tax would increase by the Consumer Price Index inflation rate, or 1 percent, whichever is higher.

Prop. 1, or the property tax levy lid lift, is being promoted as needed to “retain basic public safety and other essential services.”

Prop. 1 does not define “essential services” or “public safety.” Nor does it establish what percent of the property tax increase will go to law enforcement (law and justice).

Nothing in the property tax levy-lid lift guarantees that the sheriff will receive a penny of the money raised by this lid lift, and it’s important to note that public safety (law and justice) includes the prosecuting attorney, the jail, our courts, security guards at the courthouse, juvenile justice, etc. — not just the sheriff.

The county commissioners clearly consider “essential services” to include programs such as 4-H, the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Beach Watchers, Master Gardeners, Shore Stewards, Waste Wise, etc. The county commissioners suggest that failure of Prop. 1 would mean the end of Senior Services programs such as Meals on Wheels.

That is not true; 46 percent of the Senior Service’s program operating revenue comes from Community Thrift, Day Services and building rentals. In fact, only 38 percent of Senior Services funding is from government dollars. Government support is from state, Island County and the city of Oak Harbor collectively.

Most important, Prop. 1 authorizes use of the 2015 property tax levy as the “base” for computing property tax in succeeding years.

In other words, the level of property tax achieved in 2015 will become the base from which future property taxes are calculated. That means compounding property tax increases.

Passing Prop. 1 would mean that we’re giving approval to raise our property taxes to an undetermined dollar amount for an undetermined amount of time.

Prop. 1 states, “used for the limited purposes of retaining public safety and other essential services and secondarily, begin replenishing the county’s contingency cash reserves.”

Supporters of Prop. 1 are counting on a low primary voter turnout. Let’s prove them wrong. Vote “No” to Prop. 1 and excessive taxation.

Tell our commissioners to prioritize our budget, curb their spending and do the job they were hired — and swore — to do. That means exercising responsible financial management of only necessary county services.

Charlona Sawyer

Greenbank

Community Events, April 2014

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