Op-Ed: NUHSA strongly encourages a YES vote on Shoreline's Prop 1

Monday, October 31, 2022

OP-ED
From Heidi Shepherd, Board President NUHSA

Ballots have been mailed, and Shoreline voters now must vote on Prop. 1, the maintenance and operations levy for public safety and community services. The North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA) strongly encourages a YES vote!

The pandemic has had severe consequences for many in our community, and families are still struggling. From mental and physical health challenges to food scarcity and a lack of stable housing, residents have relied on the critical support Shoreline has provided during the pandemic and the infrastructure that the City has carefully built in partnership with area providers and agencies.

State law limits an increase in tax revenue unless authorized by a vote of the people, and because funding for basic City services (including that of human services) has not kept pace with rising costs, approval of Prop. 1 is essential to simply maintain current services. 

This includes critical community services funding for seniors, youth, and families in need, along with homelessness response services and staffing for the successful RADAR program that provides mental health professionals with police to assist community members in behavioral health crises.

If the proposed levy replacement does not pass, the City will be forced to reduce or eliminate services to balance the City’s budget, as required by law - and first on the chopping block will be those programs the City is not legally required to provide. 

At risk is support for human services, such as the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, the Teen Center and programs for children and young families, in addition to neighborhood services, community events, homelessness outreach, communications, parks maintenance, recreation programs, and cultural programming.

Renewing the levy is absolutely critical for maintaining the health and human services residents expect and ensuring a strong and vibrant community for everyone. Vote YES on Prop. 1!



6 comments:

Jeff October 31, 2022 at 10:02 AM  

I do not question the value and necessity of the services provided to people in need provided by the City and others.
However, Proposition 1 increases the Shoreline general levy by over 48%. That is a huge increase, at a time when many in are community are struggling financially from inflation and the effects of the COVID pandemic. When faced with such a large tax hike, responsible voters should ask whether such a large increase is truly necessary.
Proposition 1, by the City's own predictions, would generate a large, greater than $15 million, surplus over the six years it would be in effect. The City has not said what there plans are for that surplus.

City's revenue's have not "fallen behind" due to inflation.

We have had Levy Lid Lift measures in place for the past 12 years. Over that time, the City's general levy has doubled, increasing at roughly twice the rate of inflation over those twelve years.
The City's budget for the current biennium (2021-2022) shows an expected $8 million surplus (more revenue than expense) for the general fund.

Despite implications from the City and others, service cuts are not imminent if Proposition 1 does not pass.

The City released the draft of its budget for the next biennium (2023-2024) in early October. That budget increases funding for various services (including RADAR's 24/7 Mobile Crisis Response Team), and includes no notable cuts. That budget is, essentially, balanced **without the passage of Proposition 1**.

The City appears to have minimal explicit plans for funding additional social services if Proposition 1 passes.
At the October 10 City Council meeting, when introducing the budget proposal for 2023-2024, the City Manager noted the following "budget amendments" that she would recommend should Proposition 1 pass. In total (according to my notes) these were:
- Additional IT & HR staff for City Hall
- Mention that (due to reduced support from the YMCA) the City may need to contribute to staffing the after-school "Hang Time" program sometime two to four years out.
- Finally, and I quote: “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.)


The City has simply not justified the need for such a large, permanent, over 48% tax increase.


As an example of what a more responsible increase would look like, consider the 2016 Levy Lid Lift. It increased the general levy by 12.6% in 2017 (a year when inflation increased by 2.4%), then allowed the levy to increase at the rate of inflation for the following five years (2018-2022). Still, at the end of that six year period, the City was running (as mentioned above) a significant surplus.

This time the City is proposing an over 48% permanent increase in the general levy (at a time when the inflation rate is around 9%). Essentially all of that more than $7 million per year increase is surplus to the City's budgeted expenses for the next biennium.

If Proposition 1 is defeated, the City can put another — hopefully, more reasonable — Levy Lid Lift measure on the ballot next year. Until then, the City's proposed budget for 2023-2024 demonstrates that no service cuts are imminent.


More facts and references are available at https://www.shorelinelevy.info/

Anonymous,  October 31, 2022 at 11:30 AM  

Renewing the levy is NOT absolutely critical for maintaining the health and human services residents expect and ensuring a strong and vibrant community for everyone.

Per the Mayor, ALL services are fully funded through 2024 by the balanced city budget. No city services are adversely impacted when Prop 1 fails.

Check out your Shoreline property tax increase by inputting your address to the King County Assessor's Taxpayer Transparency Tool, https://localscape.spatialest.com/#kingcountyassessor/Tax/ (Just highlight this URL, click on Go To and input your address)

If you are like the rest of Shoreline residents, you'll find your Shoreline property tax will go up at least 50%, five times the recent extraordinary inflation rate Prop 1 purports 'keep up with'? And 16 times the 'normal' inflation rate.

Also note the Shoreline property tax is already the highest of ALL of the north county cities. The Shoreline property tax levy is nearly double, 196% more than the Woodinville property tax levy, 167% more than the Lake Forest Park property tax levy, and 158% more than the Kenmore property tax levy.

What city services are Shoreline residents receiving and what cost by paying anywhere from 60% to nearly, double, 100% more than neighboring cities that those neighboring cities are not already receiving ?

What is the average 50% increase in Shoreline property tax going to buy you and your community? You will just have less money to buy groceries, gas, and by the way, pay your already highest property tax of all of your neighboring cities!

Vote NO on Prop 1 to keep Shoreline residents in their homes and able to buy groceries!

Anonymous,  October 31, 2022 at 12:18 PM  

I respect Ms. Shepard's passion for her programs, but I disagree with her statement that if Prop 1 does not pass that " first on the chopping block will be those programs the City is not legally required to provide." The City always has the option to cut back in programs/services that it is legally required to provide in order to scale them to meet an appropriate service level. The City should be taking a 'zero-based' budgeting approach with respect to all budget items and should determine every year how much funding is actually needed for each program - rather than assuming that last year's budgeted amlount should be increased by a COLA or other percentage. All programs should be prioritized and some should be cut back and some should be increased. The fact that the City has a huge multimillion dollar surplus argues for NOT increasing the tax levy - and for being more efficient in budgeting. I suggest that everyone vote "No" on Prop 1 and send the City Council a message that a 40-50% increase in the tax levy is NOT OK.

Anonymous,  October 31, 2022 at 5:48 PM  

This is a typical response to a threat of “cutting services”. Seniors, teens and children. It’s the same as when the SD threatens to cut sports programs.
And exactly what are we talking about when you say “neighborhood services, community events, homelessness outreach, communications, parks maintenance etc”? And what are the costs of these services?
As they say, just asking questions.

Anonymous,  November 1, 2022 at 10:00 AM  

When they say "State law limits an increase in tax revenue unless authorized by a vote of the people, and because funding for basic City services (including that of human services) has not kept pace with rising costs." The rising costs were due to government on all levels, and they just expect us to pay for their mistakes?

Anonymous,  November 1, 2022 at 2:55 PM  

I agree that providing our city with funds for important programs is critical. However, I do not agree with Prop 1, and this will be the first time I vote no on a proposition for the city of Shoreline. Prop one increases the tax rate on an item I already approved at a time when the city does not need more cash. Moreover, the tax assessment on our property went up by over 20% this year. This above average increase in property values will be plenty to over fill the city coffers. There is no need to pile on extra burden to the homeowner. This is going to add an increase to my yearly property taxes equal to one additional mortgage payment. I'm voting no in favor of housing affordability for not just myself but my fellow residents as well.

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