Two suburban members of County Council introduce tax neutral plan for Criminal Justice funding
Two Eastside members of the King County Council stepped back into the fight to fully fund criminal justice with a tax increase.
However, Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert say that instead of a tax increase, their proposal would essentially be revenue neutral.
The plan would boost the sales tax by two-tenths of one percent, but at the same time lower a number of tax levies that contribute to property taxes. The result would be a net savings of $8 a year in 2011 for the owner of a $400,000 home within a city. Those who don’t own property would see their tax impact rise by $42 a year.
The proposed plan would sunset after three years. For 2012 and 2013, the owner of a $400,000 home would pay $6 more each year making the cost for the average household $4 a year through 2013.
Specifically, the plan would reduce the Parks Expansion Levy, the Unincorporated Levy, the Flood Control District and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) Levy.
In addition to funding criminal justice, the plan has another advantage, the pair say: it would get county property taxes below the state imposed assessed valuation cap. Without that, they say, several taxing districts would see their revenue decrease or even be eliminated. Specifically, Dunn and Lambert want to save at least some funding for the King County Flood Control District, which would be imperiled without the tax switch.
“This plan honors taxpayers by not asking them for more taxes during this severe economic downturn,” said Dunn, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “It also prioritizes our cops and courts by cutting back on things that are lower priorities at this time.
County officials learned last week that the combined total of local tax levies, including an eight cents per thousand increase from the King County Library District, would exceed the statutory state cap of $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.
If that happens,state law directs county officials to get taxes back under the limit by reducing or eliminating levies of lower-ranked junior taxing districts — such as park, flood, recreation, hospital and cemetery districts.
Dunn and Lambert said they were moved to suggest a tax plan because the county has been talking with union leaders about wages and benefits. The pair joined two other councilmembers in keeping a different tax plan off the August Primary ballot.
“We need to reprioritize and work together to get through this difficult financial recession,” said Lambert. “This plan prioritizes our criminal justice system to keep our communities safe as our first priority.”
The King County Council has until July 26 to decide on any measure in order to get it on the November General election ballot.
Dunn represents the communities of Bellevue, Kent, Maple Valley, Newcastle, Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Covington and Renton. Lambert represents the the communities of northeast Bellevue, Carnation, Duvall, Fall City, Issaquah, North Bend, Preston, Redmond, Sammamish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, and Woodinville.