City Council: No new county taxes to fund public safety, courts
July 15, 2010
By Tim Pfarr
NEW — 8 p.m. July 15, 2010
The City Council approved a resolution at its July 6 meeting to opposing possible tax increases by King County to fund public safety programs and the court system.
Although no county measures have been sent to the ballot yet, members of the County Council have discussed possible tax increases that could appear on the Nov. 2 ballot to fund these programs.
The city’s resolution also states that while the county has made progress in reducing costs, it failed to control ballooning personnel and benefit costs.
Councilmen Rich Crispo and Bill Erxleben brought the resolution forward, and it passed 4-3 with councilwomen Carol Simpson and Lisa Jensen and Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting.
Erxleben and Crispo said the county should do everything it can to reduce costs before resorting to tax hikes. Mayor John Dulcich and Deputy Mayor Steve Buri agreed.
Simpson, Jensen and Putter said this was not a good time for to make a statement given that no ballot measures have been brought forward, and the resolution sends the wrong message to the county.
The city’s contract attorney, Dawn Reitan, cautioned the City Council at the July 6 meeting as to how it publicizes the resolution. She referred to the Revised Code of Washington section 42.17.130, which states that no person appointed or elected to a public office may use public resources to assist in the election of a candidate or to promote or oppose a ballot proposition.
Reitan recommended that members of the City Council use personal resources to publicize the resolution.
Given this advice, Dulcich publicized the resolution using his personal e-mail account, and submitted it to members of the County Council, the Bellevue City Council, The Seattle Times and several Newcastle residents.
Editors at The Seattle Times asked Dulcich if he would be willing to write a guest editorial, and he agreed. He co-authored the editorial with Erxleben, and it printed yesterday. Read their editorial here.
The resolution passed by the City Council:
A resolution of the City Council of the city of Newcastle, Washington urging King County to adopt labor and capital policies that bring the county’s costs in line with current economic conditions, and to reject any sales or property tax increases until such time as these reforms have been implemented and the economy is in full recovery.
Whereas, the city of Newcastle understands and appreciates the need for a robust police and court system and recognizes that these are core government services rightly expected by citizens;
Whereas, the city of Newcastle — even with police costs comprising more than 20 percent of its annual operating budget — converted a 2010 budget with a substantial operating deficit to an operating surplus by slashing its capital budget and cutting personnel costs;
Whereas, King County, in order to close a budget deficit is considering various proposals to increase the tax burden cost on Newcastle citizens by imposing a countywide increase in the sales or other taxes to fund public safety programs and the court system;
Whereas, while King County has made some progress in reducing its costs, it has failed to control ballooning personnel and benefit costs and much more improvement is required through additional reductions in capital and operational costs, including the costs of the court system;
Whereas, the city of Newcastle has no say in these labor and equipment cost escalations, which are automatically added to its annual public safety costs.
Whereas, the Puget Sound Region and the country are just starting to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, one that has severely impacted county residents; now, therefore, the City Council of the city of Newcastle, Washington, hereby resolves as follows:
The city of Newcastle urges King County to adopt labor and capital policies that bring the county’s costs in line with current economic conditions, and reject any sales or property tax increases until such time as these reforms have been implemented and the economy is in full recovery.
Adopted by the City Council at its regular meeting on the sixth day of July, 2010.