Letter to the editor: Why I am voting “yes” for Prop 1—the property tax levy lid lift

Sunday, October 23, 2022

To the editor:

As a resident of the City of Shoreline, I am grateful that I live in such a well-run City.

Without waste, the City provides us the services we need, including: police protection; health and safety initiatives; roads; parks; recreation; community support programs and outreach; managing the housing growth we see all around us; and much more. 

I am also grateful that we have such a responsible City Council, which spends countless hours keeping a watchful eye on the City’s cash flow and budgeting needs. By law our City must have a balanced budget every year. 

After thorough analysis, the City’s finance experts determined that a property tax levy lid lift is needed (again) for the next six years. The City needs the additional tax revenue to maintain the city services that we now enjoy. Our City Council agreed, and voted unanimously to place the Prop 1 levy lid lift on the ballot. 

For 2022, the owner of property valued at about $800,000 paid approximately $8,500 in property taxes (the City gets about 11% of it). The levy lid lift will add about $400 to this owner’s property tax bill, or about a 4.7% increase. 

If you want the City to maintain the services that we now enjoy, please join me and vote “yes” for Prop 1. 

I trust the City’s finance experts, and the watchful eye of our budget-conscious City Council. 

We need Prop 1 to pass. Otherwise, we will all suffer from cutbacks required to balance the budget. 

For more information about Prop 1, please read the FAQs on the City’s website, including the City’s 10-year budget forecasts, with and without the levy lid lift. https://www.shorelinewa.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/56390/637992698519500000 

Tom McCormick
Shoreline



3 comments:

Jeff October 23, 2022 at 6:27 AM  

When judging whether an increase in the price of milk is large or small, does one look at the increase as a percentage of the total shopping bill?
Other components of your total property tax will be increasing next year too. And we the voters passed the Shoreline Parks bond measure this past February which will start adding to our property tax bills as well in 2023.

Proposition 1 increases the City’s general levy — that part of you property tax that goes to the City’s general fund — by more than 48%, or more than $7 million per year. The general levy has doubled over the past 12 years, increasing at roughly twice the rate of inflation. Does the City need a further 48% permanent increase?

The City’s financial experts report that the City’s general fund is expecting an $8 million surplus (more revenue than expense) for the 2021-2022 biennium.
The City’s financial experts have put forth a proposed budget for the 2023-2024 biennium which adds services (including the RADAR 24/7 Mobile Crisis Response Team) and is, essentially, balanced *without* the passage of Proposition 1.
The City’s financial experts predict surpluses in the general fund for the next five years, and a balanced budget in the sixth year, if Proposition 1 passes: Over $15 million in total surplus over six years.

The City’s financial experts, while they were deciding what tax rate to write into Proposition 1, used a low-ball estimate for how much property assessments would incease this year. (Since the total levy is the Levy Rate multiplied by assessed value, estimating the increase in assessed values is a crucial part of estimating the effect of Proposition 1.) Despite the white-hot real estate market we saw last year (Zillow’s home value index for Shoreline rose 20% from January 2021 to January 2022), the City was assuming an increase of assessed values of just 12% until it was pointed out by a citizen that the increase was likely to be significantly higher. Upon acknowledging that there previous estimates were low, they dropped their ask for Levy Rate from $1.40 per thousand to $1.39 per thousand. When their initial estimates as to how much that $1.40 Levy Rate would raise the tax levy were shown to be low by 8%; the City dropped it’s ask by less than 1% to the $1.39 that's written into Proposition 1.

Statements in favor of Proposition 1 are full of truisms, but short on numbers and facts: of course it is true that taxes pay for services, and if there is not enough revenue to cover expenses services will have to be cut. But the City is proposing a 48% permanent increase in the City’s general levy at a time when the current budget has a revenue surplus and the budget for the next two years is balanced. Citizens should expect better justifications — some hard numbers and facts, not just truisms about the necessity of taxes — before approving such a large increase.

We have no issue with the idea that taxes should increase to cover increasing expenses, but bump in taxes written into Proposition 1 is much larger than what can be justified by that. The City has not explained what it plans to do with the large surpluses Proposition 1 will generate.

If you believe in responsive and transparent government, vote no on Proposition 1. The City can place a more reasonable Levy Lid Lift measure on the ballot next year.

Anonymous,  October 23, 2022 at 8:53 AM  

Disagree

Our city is very slow at completing past projects funded by taxes. Example: sidewalks

Why give them more?

Anonymous,  October 23, 2022 at 10:08 PM  

I think Mr. McCormick is misleading the Shoreline taxpayers when he says the tax levy impact on an $800,000 homeowner is just a 4.7% increase. The projected $400 increase may be a 4.7% increase in total King County property taxes, but it is a 43% increase in Shoreline property taxes, and will further increase by the cost of inflation every year for 6 years. There is no way that Shoreline needs to increase taxes by 43% to support existing programs. The City has a very large multi-million dollar surplus reserve, and they do not need to raise taxes by almost 50%. Shoreline taxpayers should resoundly defeat Proposition 1.

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