City Council should keep taxes reasonable

Bill Holstine urges residents to keep elected leaders accountable.

Does our tiny town of approximately 19,000 need a big footprint in affordable housing? If so, at what cost to taxpayers is enough or too much? The cost of homes in the greater Seattle area, including our town, is rising rapidly and property taxes are rising accordingly helped by our City Council while affordable is basically a no-win proposition.

For all giveaways/overruns taxpayers pay double. Reference the public hearing/Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on Dec. 11, which included discussion of the proposed affordable (subsidized) Bellweather Housing where the subsidy was stated to be around $10,000 annually for X number of years. The bulk of the discussion was on personal impacts, parking, play areas and walking space, all of which are important but must be balanced with our council’s fiduciary responsibility. The cost to taxpayers is actually $20,000 annually because the subsidy giveaway has to be backfilled by taxpayer dollars and is a double-bang on tax revenues.

It was, however, encouraging to hear that people are moving elsewhere to obtain jobs and affordable housing which is the American way. People tend to be mobile in seeking areas where they can afford to live. Our council’s use of our tax dollars to keep people in our city via affordable housing subsidies to maybe help meet student enrollment quotas for maximum school funding is unfair to taxpayers. The student numbers ebb and flow with economic conditions influenced by their parents’ mobility seeking jobs (usually elsewhere) in keeping with the American way by helping themselves, which should be encouraged not thwarted by council actions.

This tax hole backfilling is apropos for all giveaways, including subsidies for the Tukwila School District, churches, boondoggles to other cities, to Washington, D.C., out-of-country travel, contract cost overruns and everything that requires backfilling the hole thereby created in the budget. Wouldn’t it be great if our elected fiduciaries would include cost (within budget/overruns) in their discussions of all issues taken up by the COW before consensus is achieved and our tax bills would likely be the benefactor? Town residents are aware of tax increases and should be braced for additional increases if our council stays on track with its current building plans.

We need to pay close attention to the council we elect to keep our taxes reasonable. Our tax bills would suggest it has been caviler in fulfilling its collective duty. Taxes are up and going higher with no obvious end in sight. It’s time for the council to tighten its spending belt and become more transparent in showing costs for every expenditure. If the cost of anything is within budget our elected doesn’t seem to care about the actual cost. If our elected need access to other cities’ ideas to determine how to run our town maybe they should be using webinars (online conferences) to avoid travel and billeting costs. Belt tightening or more double taxation?

– Bill Holstine


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