Letter to the Editor: snake oil salesmen will starve city of revenue

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To the Editor:

Apparently, there’s snake oil for sale in Shoreline and people are buying. They’re lining up to starve the city of revenue by voting against Proposition 1. Do your own homework and don’t trust the misleading propaganda on the NO website. They say that Shoreline has the highest property taxes in the county, but forget to mention that the city portion is only about 10% of that. Among cities the rate is actually low. We pay more for Fire protection than we do to the city for all of its services including police.

Ever since the Eyman property tax debacle, the city has been limited to 1% annual increases in property tax collections, but inflation has been much higher than that, about 4%, so the cost of doing business has gone up. Folks, the bill has come due.

The NO folks have also jumped on the national bandwagon of scapegoating public employees. They take the city’s projections for salaries and benefits for the next 6 years and call them outrageous raises for overpaid employees. Again, do your homework on the numbers and on how the city operates. The city’s policy is to grant cost of living raises at 90% of inflation, but the City Council makes the decision annually and has decided against even those modest increases for 3 years running. So why are the projections going up faster than inflation? Health care costs are largely to blame, but that’s our national embarrassment, not something unique to Shoreline.

The proposed tax increase will cost about $0.25 per day for an average residential property in Shoreline. Are we really so cheap that we won’t continue to invest in a city that is known as one of the best places to live in the region? Say it ain’t so. Vote YES on Proposition 1.

Janne Kaje


Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 12:48 AM  

You're an employee of the City of Shoreline's planning commission???

Heh. Somehow I'm not surprised.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 7:43 AM  

Previous commenter is not just "not surprised", but also "not informed." Planning commission members are not paid, they are appointed citizens who volunteer their time. Like Mr. Kajje said, check out the facts about Prop. 1. Don't be a "know-nothing".

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 7:53 AM  

So Janne Kaje is not a paid government employee? Seems like splitting hairs here. In any case, it seems like honest and fair disclosure would be in order. Go ahead and educate me.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 9:38 AM  

Education: a planning commissioner is a volunteer resident of Shoreline who spends several hundred unpaid hours each year to help make Shoreline a better place to live for all of us, including those who don't bother to learn how the system works or to give of their own time.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

You didn't answer my question. Is Janne Kage a paid government employee? The sin of omission here is a little bit dishonest...ironic, since the complaint is that the No on Prop 1 people are being dishonest. Again, full disclosure, please?

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 9:44 AM  


Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

Ahh, there we go. Thank you.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

The burden of this tax increase will be felt most by people on fixed, or declining incomes - including Seniors - and on Shoreline businesses.

I want a strong business climate in the City. I prefer a fair tax system in our State - not one where the poor pay more of their income in taxes than someone who can afford it.

I expect Shoreline to prioritize finding efficiencies and lowering costs rather than raising taxes during a recession.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

Yes, Janne Kaje works for King County, not for Shoreline.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 10:20 AM  

But is he a voter - check out the Sound Politics Voter Database: http://usefulwork.com/cgi-bin/wavoterdb.cgi

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

I would like to know why the new City Hall has a completely empty third story?

For what reason was that space built at such a great cost, if it is still empty a year later after the "grand" opening, either the staff envisioned expanding government or was speculating with public tax dollars on leasing it to the private sector, which is competing with other local businesses.

Tell me, Mr. Kaje, when the city is now taking money ($25,000 from the roads budget, just for starters), how that is snake oil, in order to pay off bonds we can't afford?

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

We pay for fire protection because under Washington State Law (RCW 53.56) the Shoreline Fire District is required to maintain their average emergency response time in accordance with international association of fire chiefs, and the national fire protection association.

Additionally, there is a maximum cap on how much the fire district and the city can tax us on property taxes together - the city tax can actually take away the taxing capability of the Shoreline Fire District - RCW 52.04.081

RCW 52.04.081 states that:

Any city, partial city as set forth in RCW 52.04.061(2), or town annexed to a fire protection district is entitled to levy up to three dollars and sixty cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation less any regular levy made by the fire protection district or by a library district under RCW 27.12.390 in the incorporated area: PROVIDED, That the limitations upon regular property taxes imposed by chapter 84.55 RCW apply.

So the limit is $3.60, but the City has never stated that openly, have they? Nor has the City stated that their levy would have an impact on the Shoreline Fire District?

What would happen to the Shoreline Fire District if their ability to generate revenue is impaired? The City doesn't allow impact fees for senior housing or multi-family housing for the fire department, Mr. Kaje should know that as a planning commissioner. The Shoreline Fire Department Five-Year Plan has already identified the large impact of aid calls on their department in recent years, it is tremendous.

And how will this affect the public?

Longer response times.
Fees for aid calls.
Joining a regional fire service.
Delay in replacing equipment.
Higher insurance rates.

Yeah, go complain about fire and emergency taxes while we pay for quality of life amenities like parks.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 1:52 PM  

Educating one's self is a key and my limited involvement in the nitty-gritty of Shoreline government shows me that there are many complexities (which, ultimately, may be part of the problem) that have to be waded through to genuinely understand the issues.

As for me, I feel like I don't have a good grip on EITHER the specific costs for the specific services of either Fire Dept or City services (or, any other governmental entity for that matter...). I acknowledge that I could probably figure this out if I spend enough time tracking it all down - but wouldn't it be much more helpful for the citizens to have easy access to this detail posted on the City web-site??? If it is there - please point me to it...

BTW - I am a little disappointed in the anonymous signers. If you really believe your comment (and person?) has merit - please sign your name as a citizen of Shoreline.

Greg Logan
Assistant Director
Highland Terrace Neighborhood Assn.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 6:49 PM  

This election isn't about the electorate understanding the government's issues. This election is about the government understanding the electorate's issues. Some folks don't seem to understand what is important here.

When folks are struggling to pay bills and avoid foreclosure, trying to understand why the government needs more of our money is really low on the "to-do" list. The government isn't that important this election. The electorate is. Some folks are going to be really frustrated because they don't understand that.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2010 at 8:14 PM  

Response from Janne Kaje: There is nothing in my letter to suggest that Fire taxes should be lower. Quite the contrary -- I'm perfectly happy paying for good fire services, just as I am happy to pay for good city services. If you simply read what I wrote instead of what you think I meant between the lines, you would see that I'm simply pointing out that we don't actually pay very much per household for a very vast array of city services. In my case, just over $300/yr. Bargain.

As for my voting record, I am not only a public employee, but also a foreigner! What could be worse?! But don't fret -- I pay all the same taxes that you do and I do my part as a citizen of Shoreline by volunteering a great deal of time so that this city can be a great place to live.

Regarding impact fees, I am on the record as supporting impact fees as a source of revenue to mitigate for the impacts of development. I'm glad to hear that there are others who think so as well. Please share your views with the city council.

Janne Kaje

Anonymous,  October 18, 2010 at 7:00 PM  

You mention that Shoreline has the highest property taxes, but only 10% go to Shoreline. What difference does that make when I pay my property taxes? Zero difference, they are still the highest in the county. That fact doesn't magically make my property taxes low...right?

Of course, that is no fault of the citizens of Shoreline...unless you are one of the folks who voted for higher county property tax rates.

Something else to consider: Congress and the President failed to take action on the Bush tax cuts, leaving their fate in limbo until after the election. Do you think the threat of significantly higher federal taxes next year might contribute to people voting against local tax increases? Again, this isn't the fault of the citizens of Shoreline...unless you happen to be one of the folks who voted for those that now control Congress.

The Democrats in Congress who failed to take action on the Bush tax cuts have damaged the chances of local tax increases all over the country...so you can give them a big round of applause when Prop 1 fails.

I'm sure that little fact won't stop you from voting for Patty Murray again, will it?

How's that for some snake oil?

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