Post by Carl
Joni Balter follows her paper’s line on taxes.
Here in the Northwest, we do tax increases, particularly requests for bonds and levies, like some people ride bumper cars. The city and county, and sometimes the state, drive around in circles smashing into one another. Taxpayers are left watching frightfully from the sidelines.
Sometimes, you can just not go for a metaphor. Just “Taxie me no likee” would make as much sense.
So it appears to be for the 2010 taxing season.
Seattle, King County and the state of Washington are all pondering requests for voter approval or outright impositions of taxes, but there is no place where the cumulative impact on taxpayers is contemplated or assessed.
My goodness, that special election where 71% of Seattle voters supported schools in a down economy must mean that Seattle has no stomach for tax increases. Because it’s a down economy, and taxing season, right?
The county may ask voters to approve a .2 to .3 percent increase in the sales tax. Proceeds would pay for public safety, public health and crucial human services — items likely to be slashed in the upcoming 2011 county budget. This is merely an idea so far, an expensive one in a recession.
Slashing budgets in a recession is still bad. This is a recording
The county budget — about three-quarters of which goes to courts, cops, jails, prosecutors and public defenders — is in dire trouble. Several County Council members, some former Democrats and former Republicans, are thinking of asking voters to help.
They’re still Democrats and Republicans, even if there was an election. And courts, cops, jail prosecutors and public defenders are now the enemy?
And then there is new Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who has made an emergency election for a sea wall a priority — a $241 million property tax increase. He says the sea wall is a danger and must be dealt with promptly.
I don’t know if it is an emergency or not, but if it is, shouldn’t we pay for it before we lose the waterfront?
Always with the cupped hand out, always seeking more money from you and me.
I know right, let’s just Colorado Springs* the state and be done with it. Stupid hand outs.
One of the most likely scenarios to help balance the pinched state budget is to extend the sales tax to candy and gum and impose a wholesale tax on bottled water, which consumers would end up paying anyway. The tax may be tied to education or health care but probably would not require voter approval.
I get it, you don’t like the idea of taxes because you’re not thrilled with the idea of government. You work for the Seattle Times. Fine.
It is an increasing tradition in our region to offer government a la carte. You like police, don’t you? Well, then, buck up for the sales-tax increase. If the county were to seek the .3 percent sales-tax increase, and if voters agreed, sales tax in the county would be 9.8 percent and 10.3 percent in bars and restaurants. That is until the Mariners stadium tax expires in early 2012.
I do agree, we probably shouldn’t be paying that stadium tax, and I’ll be glad when it expires too. Yay common ground.
Word to the wise: That tax will never come off the bill even after stadium bonds are paid because everybody and their second cousin once removed is eager to reroute the tax to their cause. Think Husky Stadium, KeyArena, the arts and others.
Everybody and their second cousin once removed? Is that more than everyone and their brother, and actual phrase? Or really is it more than everyone? And given the fact that tax increases for stadiums are the only thing Seattle and King County residents regularly do reject, it seems like your analysis is at least questionable.
I have no specific problem with each tax mentioned above if the local government can make the case and show it is slashing all remaining blubber.
You sure sound like it. Although clearly we don’t have a good definition of blubber.
What irks me is the cumulative effect on citizens trying to make ends meet in an increasingly unaffordable region. There is little coordination between city and county, and insufficient synchronization between the mayor and the council.
And don’t even get Joni started on that time Seattle voted for public water. I mean really, increased taxes and taking over a private function. Sure it was 1875 to 50**, but I think we’re ignoring the will of the people, somehow.
To that end, the Seattle City Council recently asked McGinn to review all the voter “asks” on the horizon to have a more holistic sense of what is coming up. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen says the council is not on board for the mayor’s requested May election for the sea wall and may pursue other funding options, including use of the city’s credit card to reduce the hit on taxpayers.
Well shit, I say put all government functions on the credit card, amirite?
By the current system, taxpayers face each new ballot with dread. The assumption is that each government may throw a tax increase our way almost every summer and fall. Couldn’t there be a meeting where the geniuses we elect in various governments talk about the overall impact?
Seattle taxpayers voted 71% for schools. That’s not dread, it’s a recognition that we’re a community, and that even though we don’t have many children, we still value education.
What happens instead is various bond and levy requests vie for popularity, with county officials arguing police and courts are more important than sea walls and the city saying a sea wall is more pressing. There is no system for prioritization. The result is ballot fatigue and tax overload.
Hell, the non-Seattle portion of the county voted in favor of hippie dippy socialist libraries, and almost all of the school levies passed throughout the county.
It’s not as if 2010 is unique. Seattle’s Families and Education Levy is up for renewal in 2011. McGinn seems eager to ask voters this year or next if they want to extend light rail along the west side of Seattle. Counties are seeking a utility tax for unincorporated areas. The state is planning to tax or increase taxes on other items or services.
So now renewing a levy is a new tax?
Your wallet and head and mine begin to ache.
My wallet doesn’t have feelings, and my head is just fine. Anyway, awesome end! No mention of what real structural reform might look like, just whining.