Letter to the Editor: Prop 1 is the outer layer of the onion

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To the Editor,

There are numbers of citizens in Lake Forest Park upset over a Proposition coming up for an August 17th vote. This ballot item is just the outer layer of an onion that has been growing for years in the Park. The problem has been the Mayor and Council have been busy growing their little government at a pace that exceeds their revenue so they keep raising taxes; hence this latest one to raise the levy lid on property tax some 38.6% in the first year alone.

I was a planning commissioner and councilman for 10 years back in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties. We had approximately 8 staff then and our population was 3500. Now the City has 58 staff and 13,300 population so while the City has grown proportionately 3.8 times, the staff ratio has grown 7.25 times with a third of them making an average of $138,000 a year. This imbalance is just one example of how the City officials have misspent citizen’s monies.

Now we are making an effort to peel back the onion a bit by voting NO on Prop. 1 and the fumes are causing the Mayor and Council to tear up.

Jack Tonkin
Lake Forest Park


Teri "5 signs down, 1 remaining" Howatt,  July 28, 2010 at 3:16 AM  

Interesting analogy, Mr. Tonkin. Let's start peeling together.

Layer one: Life has changed since the 1970s. Back then, the EPA was a pipe dream of environmentalists, wetland conservation was unheard of, cities drained their waste into neighboring streams. There were no Federal mandates to control stormwater, save endangered salmon, present a disaster management plan to FEMA, hire a diverse workforce. Wishing won't make these go away.

Layer Two: Cable TV, cable internet, DSL, streaming media. Outreach and record keeping are entirely different in the 21st century. Freedom of Information Act requests? Unheard of then. This year, theFOA was used by the No! committee to spam (also different in the 1970s) city residents. This layer is exponentially thicker and brand new.

Layer Three: Lake Forest Park must fight for inclusion in long range regional planning. We want some say in a light rail connection running down Bothell Way, or above Bothell Way. Or under Bothell Way. Ditto Brightwater, our city is in its path. Buses? Park and Ride facilities? What about density requirements? King County has its own ideas of how our city can grow. Big, big, crunchy layer.

Layer Four: City Hall is not mismanaged. Pay scales remain in line with other cities the size of Lake Forest Park. A lot has changed since the 1970s, but not much has changed since Alan Keist, Steve Plusch, Donovan Tracy, Carolyn Armanini and Mary Jane Goss were City Councilmembers. Really -- Steve, Alan and Donovan have only been gone a few months. They'd like to be back in office )except for Donovan who was just there to keep tabs on the next layer:

... the one that makes my eyes water -- that $250,000 failed attempt to stymie King County's improvement of the Burke Gilman trail. That happened under the relentless watch of the former Councilmembers on the No! committee. Those fiscally prudent souls.

This tax levy is not a crushing burden. We're talking $11.00 a month, $130.00 a year, $780.00 spread over 6 years for the "average" homeowner in a $400,000 house. I see you spent a whopping $2,000 supporting this campaign! It's your money, but it sure seems like a waste to me.

Did the No! folks mention that tax bills have gone down every year from 2000 to 2008? Didn't think so. They're busy making a big stink. Meh.

Anonymous,  July 28, 2010 at 8:18 AM  

I agree with Tonkin. What Meh has failed to mention is that computer's and the internet have streamlined and made record keeping, permitting, etc. easier and faster.

It comes down to this, I have had to drastically cut my family budget because of this economy, why should I expect anything less from my local City, County or State Government.

I just talked to a lady yesterday who lost her job after 25 yrs of service. The media is sugar coating our situation because everyone I talk to has either lost their job, been downsized, had their business drop by 30 to 40%, had to sell their american dream or have now gone into their savings to stay alive. These are desperate times for most folks and require desperate measures.

The Feds came into the City of Lynnwood last year and told City officials to expect a 40% drop in their revenue and to start adjusting now.

Start making people in our government fiscally responsible.

Anonymous,  July 28, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

"Did the No! folks mention that tax bills have gone down every year from 2000 to 2008?"

I really don't know where you're getting your tax bills. To say that they have gone down every year from 2000 to 2008 is just as ludicrous as the claim that the lid lift will "only cost $11 per month" - which is based on a 10% drop in AV which is simply NOT HAPPENING! And the City knows it. Stop the lies about the cost. It's so unbecoming.

Mary Jane Goss,  July 28, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

MEH, I am one of the former City Council members you mention in your letter. Your attempt to deflect from the issues at hand are misguided. Times are hard, and almost everyone is taking a cut in pay, or having to deal with unfortunate economic realities. Proposition 1 as it is written, is based on assumptions which are flawed. Your mudslinging won't correct the language of Proposition 1. Your diatribes about City Hall, can't change economic conditions. Bottom line, Proposition 1, will not fix the structural problems which exist and have existed for years at City Hall. City Hall needs to resize itself, just as other governmental entities are doing, without raising property taxes. Giving City Hall 6 years of tax increases without limit is not prudent or fiscally sound for individual taxpayers. Voting NO on Proposition 1 is the first step at making City Hall to go back to the drawing board and come up with a solution, citizens can support. Lake Forest Park is not immune to foreclosures, shortsales, and unemployment. This is simply not the right time to raise property taxes.

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