LETTER: ‘This city can not afford to just walk away from its property tax share’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Normandy Park Blog nor its staff:]


The City of Normandy Park has Proposition 1 on the ballot for the November 3rd general election. This Levy Lid Lift returns property tax revenue to the $1.60 per thousand of assessed value mark that the citizens overwhelmingly supported in in 2012. The way the lift was written then, only allowed the $1.60 cap to be in effect for one year. The current proposition will only return the levy to the $1.60 mark and not more, even though language had to include some assumed interest rates that will keep it at or just below that mark for six years.

Currently the city is collecting $1.44 per thousand of assessed value and this figure drifts down each year creating a budget crunch starting in 2016. The extra 16 cents per thousand will cost the homeowner of an average $500,000 home an extra $7 per month. The $1.60 mark is what all the cities around us aim for. Property tax is a large portion of this city’s budget and it is difficult, to almost impossible, to raise revenue anywhere else. This city can not afford to just walk away from its property tax share, and this average $7 per month extra will all stay in this city for all our benefit.

Our city is run in a very lean fashion with only essential services being somewhat fully covered. There is nothing left to cut that is fat- it is only bone and marrow that keeps this city operating. This is truly a wonderful city to live in and raise our families. It deserves our support to keep this going. If this proposition does not pass we will have service level reductions in the Police Department, possibly two officers cut while we are already not fully staffed. This will affect their safety and yours. Other things that likely will go away include street maintenance funding where we already are way behind in ordinary maintenance. Our reserves funds are very thin and will be gone quickly and we will become unable to provide basic services that cities are mandated to provide. Won’t you support this wonderful city and your two most valuable assets, your family and your home? Please join me in telling this story to your neighbors and support your city. Thank you,

– Clarke Brant
former council member (8 years)
and former mayor.

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]


3 Responses to “LETTER: ‘This city can not afford to just walk away from its property tax share’”
  1. John Rankin says:

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: Arlene Rankin
    To: John Rankin
    Sent: Sat, 17 Oct 2015 17:18:51 -0000 (UTC)
    Subject: Fwd: Prop .1.

    This will be my last post on the Prop. 1 Levy Lid Lift. It is intended for inquisitive minds wondering how there can be such disagreement over a mathematical computation, which by definition, can have only one result. You might even go to the town meeting tonight and ask some questions. At least that way, when your taxes go up far more than promised, you’ll know just who to talk to.

    And while you’re at it, you might pause to consider who in the world would want this crappy volunteer city council job and have to put up with far more than what you’ve read here the past few days.

    Here are some of the “inaccurate” (i.e., false) things the city staff, some council members, and/or supporters of this Prop. 1 Levy Lid Lift have said about it multiple times in print. All of the analysis I have used here has been confirmed as accurate in conversations with King Co. assessors office staff.

    1. The 2013 Levy Lid Lift was for one year only.

    Not true. The resolution passed by the council for implementation by the King Co. assessors office clearly states that the levy increase “will be used as the basis for all future rate calculations”.

    2. The current measure, Prop. 1, is a “replacement levy”.

    Not true. Normandy Park has never had an expiring levy. See #3.

    3. Normandy Park is like the school district, with levies that need to be renewed every few years.
    Not true. School Districts have secondary Maintenance and Operations levies to supplement their operations which expire completely after three years, and are not used as the basis for future tax increases, but do in fact need to be renewed. The rate schedule and expiration dates are featured prominently in the levy resolution. We have nothing like that in Normandy Park.

    4. If the Prop. 1 Levy Lid Lift passes, your taxes will only increase $.16 per thousand (or $7 a month, or whatever…).

    Not true.

    Scenario 1: Prop. 1 fails. The city portion of the property tax you pay goes up 1% (approximately) from the taxes you paid this year, as mandated by state law. The citywide increase in property valuation does not impact the amount of taxes you pay.

    Scenario 2: Prop 1 passes. Average citywide assessed valuation increased in 2015 by just over 12%. Prop. 1 raises the rate $.16 per thousand, or just over 11%. The increase in property valuation IS used to calculate your new taxes, per Prop. 1. The city portion of your taxes increases 1.11% x 1.12% = 1.2432, or 24.32% more than the taxes you paid this year.

    NOT $7 a month or $.16 per thousand or whatever.

    5. If Prop. 1 passes, the net effect on taxes in the following five years will be minimal ($2 a month total over five years or whatever).

    Not true. Not only will taxes increase an average of over 5% per year for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 (36.58% minimum), but based on Prop. 1’s language, every time your assessed value increases, it gets ground into the mix just like in Scenario 2 above.
    And, there is a whole lot more that has been said that is either inaccurate or incomplete analysis.

    If you’ve gotten this far, you are probably wondering how could city staff, some city council members and/or supporters of this levy be saying something so different?!
    You might have even noticed them using phrases like “scare tactics”, “disinformation” “nonsensical data”, all the while offering no actual facts or calculations to counter the very detailed information provided in my posts on this subject.

    Or, you might read “this is our only chance to save the city” or other similar dire predictions. Like we’ve never heard that before.

    However, more than HOW there could be such a difference in the analysis of a relatively simple mathematical computation should be the question WHY? And to that, there are only two possibilities.

    The first possibility is that they just don’t understand taxes and how they work. It’s disheartening to think that we have professional city staff and long-time council members that fall into this category, but it seems the most likely explanation for some.

    The second possibility is more disturbing, which is: They DO know, but for a variety of reasons, they don’t trust us enough tell us. This kind of governmental paternalism bugs me. We are adults and can make decisions and weather hard truths when we have to.

    I have voted for every tax increase in past years because we do need revenue. But the kind of “bait and switch” that we’re seeing here shouldn’t be tolerated. And I can’t be the only one who notices that the some of the same city officials who are touting their “transparency” are the ones actively hiding the real impacts of Prop. 1 from us.

    Trying to deal with the city staff, some council-members and/or supporters of this measure reminds me of the story of a college basketball coach who said to his star player: “Son, what’s your problem?! I can’t figure out if it’s ignorance or arrogance!”. To which the player responded: “Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care!”. Humorous, in a dark sort of way.
    All I am trying to do is give the voters of Normandy Park a fair shot at understanding what the impact of Prop. 1 is going to be on their bottom line. Lord knows, the chances of them getting the information anywhere else appears to be slim. The only way our system works is if are the cards are on the table for us to see. It may be out of step with the times, but it’s just the way I see it.

    John Rankin, idealist

    • Shawn McEvoy says:

      While John Rankin would prefer to dance around the Levy Lid Lift issue with “percentages” and other smoke and mirrors, I feel it is important to set the facts straight. With a successful Levy Lid Lift the owner of a $500,000 property would pay $7 to $9 per month. Let’s say it’s $9 per month; that’s $108 per year to maintain police and city services at current levels – Period. The alternative is to layoff 2 – 3 police and or city workers (we’re told we are ar razor thin margins with the number of city workers). It’s that simple.
      Ask the City Manager, the City Finance Director, the Mayor or any current City Council member and they’ll tell you the same numbers. There is no conspiracy nor some budget for some new city hall.
      $9 per month , $108 per year. Can you afford it? Can you afford not to help out ?
      “Lower your taxes”, “Save our Cops”, while opposing a Levy Lid Lift ? Who is John Rankin trying to fool now?

  2. Clarke Brant says:

    Shawn McEvoy- Thanks for the clear response to the comment posted by John Rankin. Both of you are candidates for the same council position and it is clear that you are the candidate that really intends to “Save Our Cops” regardless of the obfuscation by the other candidate and his odd claims on his campaign signs. Best wishes on November 3rd!

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!