Letter to the Editor: The key issues in Prop 1 are services and expertise

Monday, October 24, 2022

To the Editor:

I support Shoreline Proposition 1 because it makes sense to me. I believe the key issues are services and expertise.

None of us can turn our backs on crime, homelessness, and the needs of the less fortunate. I’m optimistic about the RADAR program that pairs mental health professionals with police to mitigate behavior health crisis. 

It must be less costly and more humane to avoid jail for people that just need direction to the resources that can provide the help they need. Homelessness and food insecurity is jarring to see and think about. Don’t we want our city to step in to help? I do.

Other services like the Customer Response Team may seem like a given, but are they? Would those services be reduced with the failure to pass Prop 1? Less resources means less services. An average increase of $30.00 a month with passage of Prop 1 will keep our city solvent and providing the same level of services we currently enjoy.

Finally, I believe in the City’s financial expertise. Staff are required to plan for a 6-year period in which inflation is currently running at 6 to 8 per cent. If they compensate for inflation by using the reserve, the reserve will be gone, and services would still be cut. I value City services and respect their financial expertise. That is why I support Prop 1 and I believe you should too.

Joan Herrick


Jeff October 25, 2022 at 9:20 AM  

The statements from the City and others in support of the November's Proposition 1 are full of truisms: statements that are obvious true, but say nothing new or interesting. (The textbook example of a truism is "you get what you pay for". That's usually true, but is not particularly helpful in deciding on what a fair price is. We've all learned that the most expensive option is not necessarily the best.)

Nobody is suggesting that we turn our backs on crime, homelessness, or the needs of the less fortunate.

But Proposition 1 includes a permanent 48%, more than $7 million per year, increase in the City's general levy. That's a lot of money to ask for, at a time when the rest of us are feeling the effects of inflation and the COVID economy as well.

The pertinent things to ask when it comes to Proposition 1 are questions like:
- How much does it cost to provide those services?
- Is the City short of revenue (and if so, by how much)?
- What plans does the City have for any surplus revenue generated by Proposition 1?

Here are the facts:

The City is not currently short of revenue. Proposition 1 generates huge surpluses.

- We've had Levy Lid Lift measures in place for the past twelve years. These have allowed the City's general levy to double over that period, rising at, on average, roughly twice the rate of inflation.
- The general fund is expecting an $8 million surplus (more revenue than expense) for the 2021-2022 biennium.
- The City's proposed budget for the next biennium (2023-2024) increases services in several areas, including providing full funding for the RADAR 24/7 Mobile Crisis Response Team, and includes no significant cuts to services. That budget is, essentially, balanced, *without* the passage of Proposition 1.
- The City predicts that Proposition 1 will generate over $15 million in surplus revenue over the next six years.

What is the City's plans for the surplus revenue that Prop 1 would generate?

At the October 10 City Council meeting the City Manager, during her introduction of the proposed 2023-2024 budget, listed "budget amendments" that she would suggest, should Proposition 1 pass. These were (by my notes, this is a complete list):

- Hire more IT and HR staff for City Hall.
- Note that the "Hang Time" after-school program may need funding for staffing in two to four years.
- “And, obviously, all the needs we have in our capital program. Though many have been funded, there [are] always more needs than money.” (The accompanying slide mentions "sidewalk, transportation, and park" priorities.) [Note that we already pay a sales tax surcharge and car tab fees specifically earmarked for sidewalks, gas tax and car tab fees for roads and transportation, and that we just passed a Parks Bond measure this past February to support Park improvements.]

By way of history, the previous Levy Lid Lift, passed in 2016, increased the general levy by 12.8% in 2017 (the inflation rate was 2.4% at the time), and allowed the general levy to rise at the rate of inflation for the following five years (2018-2022).

That extra 10%-above-inflation bump at the start of that Lid Lift was, as evidenced by the $8 million general fund surplus for 2021-2022, sufficient to cover rising costs for those six years.

Why does the City need such a large 48% increase in tax this time? (The inflation rate is currently 9%.) The City has not said in any clear way what it's plans are for all that extra money.

If Proposition 1 does not pass this November, the City can (and should) put another Lid Lift measure — one with a more reasonable tax increase — on the ballot next year.

The City is running a largely fact-free campaign in favor of Proposition 1.
The City has not refuted any of the facts cited by those who are urging a no vote on Proposition 1.
Please read the City's information on Proposition 1 with a critical eye.

Anonymous,  October 25, 2022 at 8:27 PM  

JOAN, I think you were right on with your comments. We need to keep our city alive and out of that. We need to help others less fortunate. Instead I cannot believe what we waste. Have a great rest of the week. BobSluder Bob

Anonymous,  November 1, 2022 at 1:31 PM  

The city should not have to lift the levy lid. Put the levy on the ballot at the current rate. Anyone who owns property be it a home, condo, townhouse, apt or business received their yearly value statement from King county that is used to calculate property taxes and I know mine went up significantly. Shoreline will already be collecting more money in 2023 based on the new values. The city needs to live within its means like the rest of us in the face of skyrocketing inflation. Currently over 12 percent in Washington State. I have already voted NO

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