Shoreline Council votes to place levy lid lift proposition on November ballot

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

At its July 26 meeting, the Shoreline City Council adopted a resolution placing Proposition 1, a maintenance and operations levy to maintain basic public safety, parks and recreation, and community services, on the November 2, 2010, general election ballot. If approved by Shoreline voters, the levy will maintain current police/emergency protection including neighborhood patrols and crime prevention; preserve safe parks, trails, playgrounds/playfields and the Shoreline pool; and maintain community services including Shoreline’s senior center and youth programs.

The levy would restore the City’s property tax rate to $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2011. It will also limit the annual increase for property tax levies in 2012 through 2016 to an amount not to exceed the Seattle Consumer Price Index measure of inflation and will use the 2016 levy as the base for future year levies.

In 2001 Washington voters approved an initiative that limited most jurisdictions to an increase in property tax revenue to 1% or less per year, unless a higher rate is authorized by a vote of the people. Through conservative fiscal policies, increased efficiencies, budget reductions, hiring freezes, savings and some new revenues, Shoreline has not had to request the voters to approve a higher rate for the last ten years. As a result of the 1% limit the City’s property tax rate has decreased from $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2001 to a projected $1.20 in 2011. However, as with many other jurisdictions, the 1% cap on annual property tax increases is catching up with the City’s ability to maintain essential services.

The City is now at a point where it will need to either cut basic services and programs or increase revenues. Property tax revenues, which are the City’s largest source of revenues, simply are not keeping pace with the increased costs needed to maintain basic services. Since 2000, inflation has increased by 27% while the City’s property tax levy, excluding new construction, has increased by just over 9%. The cost of some essential items, such as police, jail services, asphalt and gasoline are increasing at rates much higher than inflation.

In May 2009 a Council appointed Citizen Committee recommended that the City Council should consider placing a levy on the ballot in 2010 or later to provide funding to maintain services that have contributed to the quality of life Shoreline residents enjoy and expect. This committee spent 18 months reviewing City financial issues and sought input from the public in formulating their final recommendations. If approved, this measure would cost the average homeowner about $7.60 per month starting in 2011, with an average over the six year period of $9.25.

To learn more about the City’s financial challenges, go to the City webpage.

--Tavia Tan


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