May 08, 2007
Yet another tax hike
Today's P-I reports there will be two park levies for the August Primary, one for maintenance, the other for expansion, each adding $0.05 per $1,000 assessed property value. Resistance is futile!
Each will appear separately on the ballot, and if rejected in August, will reappear on the November ballot.
Fortunately, we also have two fiscally responsible Councilmembers:
Although the maintenance levy passed the council unanimously, members Reagan Dunn, R-Bellevue, and Kathy Lambert, R-Woodinville, voted against the open-space tax.
"Somebody's got to say, 'Too much,' here," Dunn said.
He argued that voters could be overwhelmed by tax proposals headed to the ballot this year, which could include county measures for parks, emergency medical service, passenger ferries and mental health and multibillion-dollar regional measures for Sound Transit light rail and for highway construction.
"I support parks," Dunn said. "But I think this goes too far, and I think it's poorly timed."
: The Parks Levy campaign says only the maintenance levy would be revoted if it fails in August.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at May 08, 2007
12:46 PM | Email This
The timing may not be the greatest, but it is the voters who will make the choice. How is it irresponsible to let voters choose if they simply want to maintain current parks or if they want to expand the system.
Taxes are the price we pay to keep this area livable. Parks are a key part of that and personally I will vote yes.
Giffy is typical of the DIMBULB LEFTIST PINHEADED KLOWNS who like lemmings, unquestioningly follow their leaders off the cliff and into the sea.
Giffy is a poster child for the effectiveness of pulling things like Parks that EVERYONE values out of the dungheap of Kounty Services and holding it ransom for a tax increase.
Giffy, have you every thought to ask your leaders:
1) Why Parks are not given higher priority in the existing Budget?
2) Isn't there something in the Budget LESS DESIRABLE...like Sims Chauffer or something equally as ludicrous that they could put on the ballot instead??
Giffy, ocassionally (albeit rarely) you have faint glimpses of being a reasonable person.
Try to put yourself in that "reasonable person" zone for a minute and answer me this....
WHY ARE PARKS BEING HELD HOSTAGE TO A TAX INCREASE INSTEAD OF SOMETHING LESS DESIRABLE??
Mr. Cynical, what you said.
Even Schrammbo was against all these levies this morning. He wanted to know what the rest of our taxes was used for if not these main essentials. Man, was he ever livid!
But, then "rock for brains" started bringing up the partisan angle. Oh, that is Carlson. I could have just strangled that numbskull. Here, the conservatives have a chance to redefine basic services, illustrate what our taxes are used for, and then he goes off on a partisan tangent.
And as a topper, these are simple majority levies now, aren't they?
4. Here, the conservatives have a chance to redefine basic services, illustrate what our taxes are used for
While wasting a bunch of money hiring people to figure out where every dollar goes. Guess that's the new GOP motto 'you got to spend money to find the money' (even though most Govt. financial records are public record if you actually bothered to look for them).
It not only about where the money goes, but how efficiently it it spent. As far as perusing Governement financial records goes, why don't you go talk to Armen Yousoufian.
6. Why should the citizens have to come up with what else can be cut? That's what we pay the people in government to do. Prioritize. Parks and roads are important to the people who put you in office, priotize them accordingly without asking us for additional money to fund them. Cut whatever other program you need to that doesn't affect public safety.
You are correct that Government Financial Records are public Records there for the asking. Just ask Stefan how successfully that approach is. Costly & Time-consuming for everyone.
Have you ever thought Cato that perhaps the Government Entities ought to do a better job of Open & Honest Financial disclosure....rather than force citizens to spend months & years going thru reams of documents trying to figure out where the existing dollars are going??
I've tried and continue to try to figure out government spending via Records Requests. The problem is that every Request results in multiple additional requests.
What I see on many levels (R's & D's both) is an arrogant effort to hide from the Public where the fat is and to keep mining for more $$ by holding out valued services as TAX INCREASE OR WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE & HAVE HORRIBLE QUALITY OF LIFE!
Cato & Giffy...can't we agree that government at all levels must do a better job of reporting taxing & spending and have a higher level of accountability??
Can't we also agree that government at all levels ought to be able to show they are good stewards of existing tax dollars BEFORE asking for more?
Shouldn't we be outraged when government at all levels forces us to go thru a seemingly endless maze to get fundamental information?
Cato & Giffy--
I also believe we all have to start building a model for affordable & accountable government at a local level first in conjunction with State...then Feds.
I agree, the State & Feds are constantly passing unfunded mandates in the form of regulations down to local government. It is frustrating.
Has anyone in local government ever considered telling the State or Feds to GET F*CKED???
When local governments hold the line on taxes, start telling the State & Feds NO and that they have no money and ultimately hand the State the keys to the City, Town or County.....then we MIGHT get a bit more fiscal responsibility.
Giffy & Cato--
Do you know the difference between BASIC SERVICES and DISCRETIONARY SPENDING????
Basic Services are essential services required by law like infrastructure & public safety.
Everything else like Parks, Library etc. are Discretionary. Sims Limo is also DISCTRETIONARY.
Have you ever studied how much of your local government budget is Discretionary.
ANSWER: A lot!!!
Just because a group of folks believe Libraries are necessary & desirable does not mean they are a required Basic Service. Same with Parks.
However, most successful communities value Parks above sending their Bureaucrats to $5,000/week seminars on how to screw the taxpayers more gently.
Mr. Cynical, what you said.
Cato, what if I told you of the research I did and the corruption I found in city government. Would you do anything? I thought not.
Eric had a series of articles where Snohomish County was going to spend $250k for a Boeing party. When the council questioned it, the exec clammed up.
If the exec had wasted this money on a party, he may have come back and said, "we need a levy for our parks department for 250k because we are short money". What say you then?
Schrambo is definitely not a Republican. Why is he upset? Why are you upset that he didn't want to make it an R v. D thing like you are doing? Get a grip, big fella.
Imagine Dunn saying that, but he is happily promoting his never ever ending 37 Billion dollar transportation boondoggle.
This will be an easy election..
No No No No No No No No No No No
They just jacked up our tabs again, and I'll be damned if we should let them do it again...
11. Vote NO on everything on the ballots regarding taxes and keep voting NO!!!!!!!!!!!
12. Speaking of tabs, why does my soccer mom van have a $20 tab for weight in addition to the $30 authorized and the $3 processing fee?
13. When the County wants to shell out millions every year to every organization in the county, rename the county and or course change the logo, build a new executive building in the heart of downtown Seattle where real state is the highest, move the county executive to the bank of America tower to enjoys an airline passenger view, donate to the trolley barn and the list goes on and on. well the money is always there. No special levy needed.
How come whenever the County wants to build a park, or provide basic services like 911, human services, need to repair levees in fear of Hurricane Katrina or have more metro bus service, we have to have a special levy to fund them?
Vote no on all tax increases on the August and November ballots
Good point about Ron Sims' other "priorities of government" HE places above Parks.
That $500,000 spent on the Logo would have provided a few extra extra maintenance crews.
That new Kounty building "aka Monument to Mediocrity" could have probably built Yellowstone Park.
The touchy-feely 1% to the Arts ought to be 1% to the Parks instead.
You all have the right idea.
Priorities.....and cost effectiveness.
Is that really too much to ask?
15. Parks should be in the general budget instead of other wasteful spending, which can surely be found in the budget. (like Sims' limo)
It is difficult for me to understand why the county needs extra money for anything. Income from existing taxes, particularly property taxes, must be exploding. Not only are the land values increasing more quickly than general inflation, but there is tremendous development occuring as well. Sure there are more people in the county, but they are living in new houses and apartments, with the new revenue that produces. As density increases I have to believe that the additional cost per taxpayer to provide services is less than the additional revenue created by higher tax base on the new and expanded construction.
Seriously, could one of you research junkies out there compare the county income to inflation and population increase? The county should not need additional taxation percentages.
sunsets to city programs that do not achieve desired metrics or are not priorities of govt.
ask yourself what any bank would say if your small business was constantly undershooting/blowing budgets & always needing more $$ to merely operate?
death by 1,000 levy cuts. guess voters dont mind the slow bleed. "20 cents here, a few dollars there"
18. This sounds like last time we voted on parks. They threatened to spin off a couple parks if it didn't pass, which it did pass and they still spun off Marymoor and Fort Dent. If I'm mistaking about Marymoor, shame on me, but I may be leaving one out as far as I know.
How about lets vote on what kind of vehicle the county gets to use. No A/C unless your an officer, otherwise the interior can be rubbermaid and NO stereo. It was a while ago but the Cedar Hills Land fill had some pretty nice GM products to run around the dump in.
How about we vote on them using a little less prime real-estate. I can think of many places less expensive than the current HQ.
There's a couple to start with.
Property tax revenue increases have been limited by initiative to 1% a year. That does not keep pace with inflation resulting in a net decrease every year.
The County budget basically has three things. 1) Mandated services. These are things the state makes the county do. Probably the biggest thing here is the sheriffs and jails which in 2007 is 440mil out of a 650mil general fund. 2) Discretionary expenses. This is basically a pool of around 100-150 mil. From this things like, general government, etc are funded. 3) Dedicated funds. These are things that have special taxes directed at them. These funds cannot be used for anything else. Big items here are parks, metro, wastewater, etc. These make up the bulk of the Counties budget. The County is very limited in how it spends its money. While a 3.9 billion dollar budget may sounds like a lot, only a very small portion of it is discretionary. Most is dedicated or mandated.
The two parks levies would raise 32 million a year. The reason dedicated funding is liked is that you know were the funds go to. If the county simply asked for a general tax hike people would oppose it because it could be spent on anything. This way the County can ONLY spend the money on things outlined in the ordinance authorizing the vote.
By the way the ENTIRE budget for the office of the executive is just over 10 million or 1/3 the parks levy.
Giffy, while I agree with your analysis of the limited ability to spend funds, I have to ask, "what went wrong?" Why don't taxes pay for the necessities? Why not give it a try to limit the poshness of county, city and state governments in favor of basic services? Why didn't the gas tax pay for road improvements?
Giffy, there is something smelly in Denmark and it ain't the fish. Why can't we give it a shot?
You are wrong. on the Budget. Explain why the total money coming in from property taxes is 23% more than 5 years ago. There is a limit of 1% but KC as well as most other big cities have gotten more money because of the values of home have increased. In many states your tax rate is set for 10 years or longer and the reviewed. In this state The estimated property increase is changed every year. So Instead of seeing only a max of 1% increase in Property tax. You see a 1% increase and if the market is good a 10% increase due to value of the home has increased. That is why so many people like those retired lose their homes. They can not afford this massive increase in taxes on a fixed income.
Case in point. I bought my home for 360K. The next year the tax papers said that my taxes were based on 395K. The next year 420K. So in addition to that 1% increase the value of home increased to add even more tax revenue.
But in your world you only see the max of 1%. The other factors you ignore. As allows tax money given to charities. Seattle Council. There are charities in KC that are only funded by Tax dollars either by State, County or Local funds.
There are a lot of programs out their yet who are the first ones to be cut. Fire, Police, Ambulance services, and even parks.
Who gets priority. Mass Transit, Social services, Special interests that helped get the politicians elected.
Remember the old car tabs. I spent nearly 600 a year for two vehicles. The money went everywhere but to roads. The original designation.
Yes we spend a lot of Law and Safety but still a car thief can get caught 14 times stealing a car before facing Jail time. Early out program for prisoners to cut cost some of whom have violated agreements are not sent back to jail for full term. And how many people have been killed by this procedure to cut costs. There are a lot of bad decissions out there. You have to spend too much time going to many different sources to figure out where the money is being spent.
It is easier to find out the real costs for every department of the Federal Budget expenditures than you can find KC budget items. Every thing gets grouped together.
How many programs are there? the bottom line follow the money spent. The general fund being only 600 Million out of a 3.4 Billion budget. Lots of programs to look at. But as always only Safety get cut because they can always get more tax revenue for the people will vote for Safety and parks.
All we ask is open and accountability. Lets look at the audits. Answer why in the past. People working for the government who misspent millions of dollars. Gets rewarded by an increase in pay and Job responsibility. In a business they would normally get a pink slip. Does not happen often but it does happen. Not much trust in the government because of the appearance of hiding information from the voters.
IE. Look at the new $20 car tabs hike that can be added to getting your license. No voters allowed to vote on the issue. Why because they would lose. The will of the voters constantly ignored. So why should we trust them. There is no integrity or follow the will of the people in the Democrat Party. Just Tax and spend. Why do you think the latest State budget spends more than the income coming into the state. That is where the Democrats start. And it only goes up from there. Cut those items to balance the budget that can be used to get tax payers to agree to pay for the service. Fund those items the voters would say not to. Oh yes tack an emergency clause on the bill. To prevent voters from having a say on the topic.
The list goes on and on. The bottom line what has our local and state government shown that they are open and accountable to the people.
22. 2) Discretionary expenses. This is basically a pool of around 100-150 mil. From this things like, general government, etc are funded.
So was the millions of dollars for drunk housing discretionary? Or the $600k for changing the logo? The million dollar toilets? The "task force" that busted strippers or people hooking up on craigslist?
It's pretty easy to be cynical about government asking us for MORE money to fund things we want like parks, when they're wasting money on things like what's listed above.
David, I am still confused by the property tax increases.
Case in point, I had a lot that I couldn't sell for a decent profit so I built a house and moved in. The increase in value really jacked up the taxes I paid from a thousand a year to six thousand. I understand the tax levy rate for my area and understand the tax increase.
However, this year (the second in the house) I expected the tax to skyrocket due to the roughly 20% increase in house appraised rate. However, because all the property in the area increased at the same rate, the total tax increase was minimal because the tax levy rate was lowered by $1/1000 assessed value. So, in the end, the taxes were about the same.
About six months before that I met the local county treasury in the elevator and asked him what he was going to do with all the extra tax money due to increased property values (as per your read, David) and he replied, "what increase in revenues? I don't know of any more money coming in."
I wish someone would explain these things so we all understand.
David you are wrong. The county was limited to 1% increases in the revenues received. This only excludes new construction. If you look at the budget you will see that the rate actually has been declining over the past few years to keep it at 1%. This is the money that pays into the general fund.
Now special levies are exempt from that lid as they are a fixed amount per 1000 of assessed value. This is another reason why they are preferred.
The other problems you talk about are the essence of government. Pretty much everything is a special interest to someone. The role of government is to allocate scarce resources.
And Swatter part of the big reason why the County is always short on funds is that it has been mandated to do more. The biggest example is expanding public health needs and dwindling state and federal sources. Couple that with two initiatives that curtailed revenue and there you are.
Hairy Buddah asked:
Seriously, could one of you research junkies out there compare the county income to inflation and population increase? The county should not need additional taxation percentages.
Ask and you shall receive:
I went back to 1960 cause that was an easy year to get all the data I wanted without having to do extra research. Data is current through 2005 I have things indexed for inflation in 2005 dollars.
So numbers below are inflation adjusted, per-person tax rates in 2005 dollars.
In 1960 - Property $395, All: $986
In 1970 - Property: $796 All: $1,420
In 1980 - Property: $625 All: $1,713
In 1990 - Property: $768 All: $2,162
In 2000 - Property: $1,023 All: $2,263
In 2005 - Property: $1,120 All: $2,262
We can see that overall revenue has flattened out over the last few years, and that might have a lot to do with tax revolts that have occurred in recent years. Since these are population and inflation neutral numbers, there is no real reason the state should be "needing" additional tax revenues from what they have now. Maybe the government feels they are not doing their job unless they are growing? Do they think like a private corporation that must create some sort of "shareholder value" by expanding the "business" at 8-10% per year? It is interesting to see how tax revenues have grown by nearly 225% since 1960 and we still seem never to have enough money in the state budget to get the job done.
I agree with many of the other contributers. It would be very nice to have a commitment by our government to guarantee that certain government responsibilities will be paid for first and anything else would be paid for with any money left over at the end of the year. I know that is how I run MY household budget, and how I ran the budget of my departments in the SW biz.
But of course, the cynical me thinks that politicians don't want to run things like that since it prevents them from funding pet projects and rewarding donors and special interest groups.
26. I just noticed that I ran state numbers not county. Oh, well. Maybe I can research the county figures later.
Giffy, what is the law that restricts tax increases to 1%?
I've looked over my taxes (excluding voter approved) and from 2004-2007, they have gone up 6.79%. If they were limited to 1%, I would have expected a little under half that increase.
True, my property valuation went up almost 46% and the taxes didn't go up as much, but they still increased more than 1% per year.
Yeah, parks are important.
Places that are pretty much taken over by the "homeless".
Would be nice if scabattle could afford cops who could be off the streets when (if) they arrested someone committing a crime. Still trying to figure out just what it means when on 3 separate occasions cops told me they couldn't arrest someone because it would take them off the street?!?!?!?
Perhaps my car wouldn't have been so badly trashed if they could.
What universe do these things live in?
SouthernRoots et al,
The 1% is not per tax payer, but overall. So lets say in 2005 the total property tax receipts totaled 1000 million. In 2006 they could only total 1010 million. This excludes new construction and the like. However any individual owner may see a different amount of change. The legality of that law (it was an initiative) is currently before the state supremes.
giffy, so you're saying that by using "property tax size averaging", a 1% increase for the county's receipts can actually show up as a >1% tax bill for many taxpayers in the county (excluding new construction)? So, if I have a >6% increase over the last three years, it is "averaged" out by others that pay less than 1%?
I thought the taxation was based on property valuation. Any thoughts on why existing property wouldn't pay their 1%, forcing me to pay more?
31. I have no idea why the County would need to have a seperate Parks levy for further acquisitions of property and the parking facility at the Woodland Park Zoo. They cannot operate the parks that they currently own. Out in Snoqualmie Valley the County spent 7 Million dollars on a 50 acre park space 5 years ago at Tollgate Farm. The County promised ball fields and walking trails. 5 Years later, there is still a "no tresspassing sign" on the park. That's right a public park space with a great big one fingered gesture to the very taxpayers who paid it. Maybe, both levies should fail, all of the county parks turned over to cities and the County can start focusing on issues they are obviously more comfortable with like illegal immigration and global warming.