Op-ed: Vote No on Proposition 1

Friday, October 22, 2010

Arthur Peach
Arthur Peach is the Chair of the No on Prop 1 Committee

We need fundamental financial reform in Shoreline. Proposition 1 raises taxes, but makes only gesture, not a real promise, toward maintaining the services. It would allow the City to use the additional revenue any way it sees fit. The City of Redmond faced a shortfall similar to ours several years ago and addressed it with a fundamental reformation of the way it constructed its budget. According to Redmond Mayor Marchione the result has been a 9% decrease in expenses while maintaining all services (SEATTLE TIMES, OCTOBER 5). If Redmond can cut expenses and keep services, Shoreline can too!

Raising property taxes will create a greater problem for our City; more businesses will leave, more homes will go up for sale or worse, go into foreclosure. Shoreline already pays the highest cumulative property tax rate in King County. Proponents of Proposition 1 argue that Shoreline only receives about $0.10 on the dollar, but do not take into account the issues that arise with the effects of cumulative taxes on the citizens. The City needs to adjust to the reality that we are all facing - we have to do more with less.

Retaining services during an economic downturn is always difficult. What few people know is that each year for the last 10 years the City has transferred on average $1.4 million from the Operating Budget to the Capital Improvement Projects. The City needs to correct the structural gap between expenses and revenues. The City has not reevaluated employee health care plans since 2003. We could save money and protect health care coverage at the same level by reevaluating. We could develop a larger retail sales tax base, creating incentives to keep existing businesses and recruit new ones, instead of driving them out. We could move the police department to City Hall. We need solutions, not a tax that leaves a structural problem for future Shoreline residents.

We can see the City through this crisis without raising taxes.

Vote No on Proposition 1.


Anonymous,  October 23, 2010 at 8:08 AM  

Mr. Peach’s argument consists of empty slogans, unsupported assertions, and inapt comparisons.

Mr. Peach claims that “If the City of Redmond can decrease expenses by 9% and keep services, Shoreline can too!” Wrong. Redmond is a smaller city than Shoreline (45,000 vs. 54,000) yet has much larger retail tax base (the Redmond Town Center regional mall). That explains why Redmond has over twice as many employees per capita as Shoreline, and therefore had a lot of room to absorb a 9% cut. Our city is already a much leaner organization than Redmond’s (has been for years) with a vastly smaller budget. So Shoreline can’t make dramatic reductions without dramatic cuts in services.

Mr. Peach says we could develop a larger retail sales tax base. Not a bad idea, but also not a practical near term solution. The City Council has set a goal of growing the retail tax base, but it will take years to bear fruit. It will take even longer if the NO committee succeeds in starving the city budget of staff resources for economic development.

Mr. Peach claims that the City can save money on employee health care by shopping for new insurance. Even assuming the amounts of savings that the NO campaign claims are possible (claims, not proves) at best it would fill a fraction of the $14 million budget gap. Where is Arthur going to get the other $13 million plus in cuts? Close the pool? Close the police neighborhood storefronts? Cut off funds for the Senior Center and the Center for Human Services? Even that wouldn't fill the hole if Prop. 1 goes down.

Mr. Peach claims that “more businesses will leave, more homes will go up for sale or worse, go into foreclosure. “ This scare tactic is unsupported by any serious analysis. The cost of Prop. 1 to the average homeowner would be $9 a month, or about 25 cents a day. A quarter. A day. Get serious.

Mr. Peach seems like a nice fellow, but his arguments reflect fuzzy thinking. Vote YES on Shoreline Prop. 1.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2010 at 8:13 AM  

Realtytrac has approximately 400 houses up for sale in Shoreline that have been foreclosed and about 180 houses that RECENTLY closed as sales for foreclosed homes.

Shoreline has lost 1% of its population in the last year according to the real estate websites, and why would that happen? Because people are losing their jobs and their houses.

The no campaign is stating that now is not the time to raise taxes, people are suffering.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2010 at 8:56 AM  

It's hard to look at a 100 million dollar road project and think Shoreline is starved for money. That big, new City Hall also screams about city government's poverty!!

Government can't seem to quench it's thirst for more and more money. What happened to the revenue on the new business license tax - which every business in Shoreline is now required to pay? If you want to increase the business base in Shoreline, it isn't going to happen by increasing taxes. Maybe it's time our city leaders look at tightening the belt as Mr. Peach suggests in his editorial.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2010 at 12:58 PM  

Didn't Redmond also pass two property tax levy propositions a few years ago?


Arthur Peach,  October 23, 2010 at 1:24 PM  

I appreciate the chart, but they seemed to have money available at that time and it was not tied to the Consumer Price Index. The City of Redmond also includes their Fire District, Shoreline does not. Shoreline City tax plus Fire District tax as of 2010 $1.38(City) + $1.68(fire)= $3.06(total) Apples to apples City of Redmond has a substancially lower rate, at they pay approximently $324 less for both. The chart is available in the July 26th City Council Meeting agenda page 21. It is about the total cumulative tax rate, we have the highest rate.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2010 at 5:43 PM  

The problem with Shoreline's budget, it is prioritized for the City staff, not for the needs of the citizens. The 2011-2016 budget proposes wage and retirement fund increases across the board without a performance review. There is no increase in services, the budget only MAINTAINS current service levels.

The cost the City is paying for health insurance is very high. There is savings of over $300,000 per year if they re-bid the insurance. Other jurisdictions have the staff pay a share of the premiums, just as many of us do. Shoreline employees should pay for part of the cost of their health insurance premiums.

The City would not have budgeting problems if they had not transferred about $1.4 million a year over the last 10 years from the general fund (police, park maintenance, community services) to the capital projects fund (Aurora, Interurban Trail, City Hall). In round numbers that's $14 million dollars. Had that money been invested, or put in our rainy day fund, there would be no gap. The City needs to stop robbing our general fund for capital projects. The right way to fund capital projects is to do a capital improvement bond, NOT a levy lid lift.

What isn't being said is that in 2011 the city is asking for a 1% increase, but the next 5 years the increase will be 1% plus the Seattle CPI-which historically has been 2.41%-2.91%. That means your tax rate could increase by 3.91% each year 2012-2016, or over 20% increase from the current rate. Who wants to vote for a 20% tax increase? Not me!

Finally, if Prop 1 doesn't pass, cutting services IS NOT the only option. This is the REAL scare tactic, Anonymus @ 8:08am. Cut overhead, not services.

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