Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Proposition 1

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Dear Editor:

As you may recall, during the last civic center campaign the City warned us that if the civic center measure did not pass, we would not be able to afford future rent payments for City Hall for very long. That time has come and we can no longer afford to pay the nearly half a million dollars on city hall rent.

Since 2008, the city has reduced staffing levels by 18 percent. Some city departments like administration have seen reductions in staff by over 30 percent. Even with these reductions, rent payments for the temporary City Hall have required the City to reduce city services–such as not fully staffing our police department. Maintenance and improvements in our 260-plus acres of parks and has also suffered.

Proposition 1 would help pay City Hall rent for four years while the community comes up with a plan for a scaled back, modest City Hall. Additionally, it would fund parks and recreation improvements and maintenance. By law, after four years, the City Hall portion of the levy lid lift would expire. The average homeowner would see an increase of about $9 per month for the first four years, and about $5 per month after four years. Of the over 20 cities in the county, Mountlake Terrace currently has the seventh-lowest property taxes. This modest increase will still keep the city with the seventh-lowest property taxes in the county.

This slight increase will help prevent more drastic cuts to essential city services such as public safety. Police and fire services account for 61 percent of our general fund dollars and Proposition 1 will help ensure that public safety can be fully funded.

VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 1 to keep our essential city services, give our police department the resources they need, keep our parks safe and usable, and allow the community to create a plan for a modest city hall.

Sincerely,
Dustin DeKoekkoek, Mountlake Terrace resident

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. DeKoekkoek:

    You and others are making sure to point out that the “City Hall” portion of the levy lift will expire after four years. Yet in yesterday’s Everett Herald

    http://www.heraldnet.com/news/terrace-city-manager-says-cuts-likely-if-proposition-1-fails/

    the MLT City Manager is quoted as stating that he hopes that the eventual permanent City Hall will be planned and built within that timeframe.

    So my question to you is: Assuming MLT is successful in designing, passing a measure to fund, and then building a City Hall in those four years, how will that City Hall be paid for, going forward?

    It will be by another tax increase. To replace the short-term levy lift that everyone is making sure to point out will expire.

    The reality is that these “temporary” expenditures on permanently needed items don’t expire. Not really, as they’re replaced by something else. In this case the City will sell bonds to fund the building, and will need to raise taxes, or find money somewhere, to make the bond payments. The other shoe eventually needs to drop, and will.

    I think Proposition 1 is needed and for that reason I am a supporter of the levy lift. But I think it’s misleading, and perhaps intentionally so, for proponents to point out that part of the tax increase will expire, while not also pointing out just as clearly that another levy, tax, or other revenue source will be needed to replace it.

    The reality is that we’re going to rent an “interim” City Hall for four years. After that we’re going to build a building, and will need to come up with the money to pay for it. And that’s if things work out the way the Proposition 1 proponents hope – our current “best case scenario”.

    Someone really should point that out.

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