By Josh Amato
The City of Sammamish budget is in a structural deficit — the amount of money coming into the General Fund (operations) is less than the expenses going out.
With this year’s original spending proposal, the biennial budget was in a $16.6m deficit. The deficit could be fixed by raising taxes, cutting expenses, using Fund Balance (reserves), or a mix of all three. The Council has known this day would come for a long time – as far back as 2016. But it seems no matter who won the last election, nearly every candidate was opposed to increasing revenue. There was no candidate in 2019 willing to say new taxes would be necessary, except one: Mark Baughman in 2017.
“At the Candidates Forum, the other seven candidates stated their firm opposition to new taxes and then turned around to support bonds to pay for roads,” Sammamish Comment reported at the time. “When it came Baughman’s turn, he was the only candidate to declare that bonds may require a tax hike to pay for them. It’s a truth that needs telling, and Baughman told the truth.”
Baughman was defeated by Jason Ritchie
So here we are.
By Scott Hamilton
In a maneuver reminiscent of Sen. John Kerry’s infamous “I was for it before I voted against it” declaration in the 2004 presidential election, Sammamish Council Member Pam Stuart declared she would support taking the 1% property tax increase allowed by law.
Council Member Pam Stuart
Then she voted against it when the vote was called.
She was the deciding vote in causing the motion to fail.
The vote came after the council on Nov. 19 added $270,000 to the city’s expenditures for the next year that hadn’t been budgeted.
This included $120,100 for the Technology Fund and $150,000 for a grant in the Health and Human Services Commission dedicated for youth mental health.
Feb. 19, 2019: The Sammamish city manager is laying the groundwork to the city council to impose the first utility tax of up to 3%, to begin imposing annual 1% property tax increases and to undertake pinpoint traffic improvements—including the controversial removal of the 42nd St. barricade in Timberline.
These proposals are in the packet for tonight’s city council meeting, beginning at PDF page 65.
- Fees on utilities will be passed on to consumers
- Affects only those in unincorporated King County
- Adds up to $300 per year to utility bills.
- County Council, staff action done “below the radar.”
- Final public hearing Dec. 7, followed by vote to adopt.
- Kathy Lambert, Council representative including Sammamish, Issaquah, co-sponsored.
Kathy Lambert, co-sponsor of a bill labeled “unlawful” that would impose a new tax on unincorporated King County households. Photo via Google images.
The King County Council is poised to adopt an ordinance intended to “coerce” utility companies and water and sewer districts into franchise fees to use street rights-of-way in order to raise millions of dollars in fees for the County’s general fund.
The problem—and there are many—is that the ordinance and use of funds is unlawful under state statutes, says a coalition of water districts that issued a press release today.
The Tax Day of Reckoning for Sammamish has arrived.
The City Council tonight may decide whether to adopt a 1% property tax hike, something Councils have avoided for the past eight years.
It could even decide to recapture the eight years of deferrals, or an 8% increase in property taxes, but this is unlikely.
Council Member Don Gerend also suggested the possibility of a utility tax during a study session last night.
Council Member Kathy Huckabay suggested a Transportation Benefit District tax dedicated only to road projects.