An answer to the $2 million casino closing question | Letter

Where will the money come from? That’s the two million dollar question Tukwila voters are asking as they decide whether casinos should stay or go. While the loss of almost $2 million annually is nothing to sneeze at, it is actually a very manageable problem with acceptable solutions.

Where will the money come from?

That’s the two million dollar question Tukwila voters are asking as they decide whether casinos should stay or go. While the loss of almost $2 million annually is nothing to sneeze at, it is actually a very manageable problem with acceptable solutions.

First, it is logical to think that further budget cuts will have to be made. It is not logical to assume that those cuts will be made to our public safety services as has been implied by casino proponents.

Council member (Dennis) Robertson oversaw the trimming of $8 million from the city budget last year and has stated that, “while difficult, further cuts are possible.” Happily, the casino sunset ordinance gives the council four years to identify unnecessary spending. An independent audit of the city budget would expedite this process.

Second, it is reasonable to believe that some of the lost revenue could be replaced by other taxes. It is not reasonable to believe that existing Tukwila businesses and residents will be burdened with additional taxes and fees.

Rather, the council can use the next four years to implement policies that stimulate new business growth throughout the city. New businesses mean increased sales tax revenue, more jobs, and true economic growth for Tukwila.

Last, current gambling tax revenue is only 3.6 percent of the 2011 budget—a percentage that is small enough to deal with over four years, and not large enough to panic about right now.

It is entirely possible for the city council to set aside 25 percent of casino taxes in year one, 50 percent year two, 75 percent year three, and 100 percent year four. By year five, we will be free from dependence on gambling taxes and have a rainy day fund of almost four million dollars that could be used for special projects.

Our council established the casino sunset ordinance because they believed it was time to wean our city from a source of revenue that has hidden costs and negative social consequences. I applaud that decision and trust the council’s ability to replace that revenue in ways that are beneficial to the city of Tukwila and its citizens.

 

Lisa Forsyth

Tukwila

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