Letter to the Editor: the math doesn't match the words

Thursday, October 21, 2010

To the Editor:

I read the two letters from Shoreline City Council members and when I do the math, it doesn't match the apparent meaning of the words.

Mr McGlashan speaks of '3% to 4% per year inflation'. Mr. Hall is somewhat more complete in his calculations, and refers to '27% inflation' over ten years. Plugging this into my handy calculator, this is 2.42% annual inflation (compound). 3 % to 4% is a 25% to 65% overstatement.

Mr. Hall notes a '9% property tax levy increase. Over ten years, this would be a 0.87% annual compound increase, leaving a shortfall of 1.55%. Assuming the 'amazing job of cutting costs', we are talking about savings of only 1.55% to remain even with inflation over the ten years. While I hold past fiscal caution by the City of Shoreline in high regard as responsible stewards of our money, it seems a stretch to call 1.55% per year 'amazing'.

Some of the accumulated deficit are made up from the efficiencies and cost savings ascribed to the new city hall (which residents will be paying for over the coming 20 years); foregoing COLAs when inflation is zero is not a particular sacrifice or cost savings (ask Social Security recipients, military/federal retirees, or State of Washington retirees who pension COLA the last two years has been exactly zero); while annual housing values have increased some 3% to 3.5% over the past ten years, recently homeowners have seen significant decreases in value a more pertinent measure for those who have recently purchased their Shoreline homes; the King County sales tax increase also on this ballot would allocate 40%of the proceed to King County cities, which includes Shoreline.

A case could be made for a tax increase by City of Shoreline for new and expanded programs. But basing a tax increase on maintaining basic services from the impact of inflation is not supported by an economic analysis of the rationale from Mr. McGlashan and Mr. Hall.

J Carney


Anonymous,  October 22, 2010 at 3:36 AM  

Monthly Social Security payments have actually decreased over the past two years. There has been no increase in the monthly amount paid as allowed by federal law, but deductions for Medicare Parts A (hospital), B (medical) and D (the drug plan) have increased.

So the most vulnerable populations (those on disability and the retired) are living on less money. The city staff have not made these sacrifices.

Anonymous,  October 22, 2010 at 8:59 AM  

J Carney's last paragraph is an excellent "punch line." I've done some rough calculations and the numbers don't support the City's claims that inflation has undermined the purchasing power of its 2011 budget versus in 2000. The fact that assessed property values (the taxable basis) has increased seems never to be mentioned in the Prop 1 analysis.

Anonymous,  October 22, 2010 at 11:01 AM  

I'd like to thank Mr Carney for so thoughtfully calculating the numbers and pointing out the shell game being played by the City. It's very interesting to note that if passed the monies from this tax increase would not be financially dedicated to specific services (all those the City continues to threaten us about living without), but just dumped into the general budget where it can be used for most anything, especially salaries and benefits.

While I would love to support an increase that would truly be tied directly to providing the services the City provides, it looks to me that this is about supporting the wallets of employees, most of whom don't even live in Shoreline. If you question this, just look at who has contributed to the campaign on the PDC site; City employees......

So I have voted against this in the hope that it will brought forward again with the additional taxes tied directly to critical services so they will continue to be available for our citizens rather having them reduced while employees take increases out of town in their paychecks!

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