Some pretty good reporting by Ralph Schwartz on the most recent back and forth between the City of Bellingham, the last hold out on the County Taxmageddon jail project.
The short version is that the Whatcom County Council punted on the jail vote since they knew it would put the political ball in COB’s court. It was a 6-1 yes vote to approve the plan, but it was also with the understanding that the COB wouldn’t even consider the cost sharing plan until it was approved by WCC.
I say they punted on it, essentially putting the final decision in COB’s hands. ie; Instead of making a decision that’s a rightful representation for the citizens of this county, giving an approval in deference to the COB’s final nod. That’s not leadership. That’s political gamesmanship.
Schwartz’s blog report in the Herald also sheds an interesting light on the position of the Whatcom County Executive, Jack Louws.
“According to an email from county Executive Jack Louws to City Council member Jack Weiss, the county would need to levy a property tax of 28 cents per $1,000 in value (about $75 a year for the median-priced home in the county) to pay off the $97 million bond. But property tax money can only be spent on construction. The county also would need to increase the sales tax by some lesser amount, say 0.1 percent, to pay for day-to-day operation of the jail.
“That would provide the city with the opportunity to do other public health and safety programs with the remaining 0.1 percent that would be available in the bank for the city to use in the future,” Weiss said Wednesday, June 10, in an interview. “That is something, my own personal thought is, that I am most in favor of — an approach like that. Other council members feel similarly.”
In his email to Weiss, Louws said a dual request to voters for property and sales tax hikes wasn’t feasible.
“Making two asks for the jail project is problematic to explain to voters, and problematic to legally tie together on (the) ballot,” Louws wrote in the May 19 email.
Besides, Louws said, the county is likely to ask for something like a 20 cent per $1,000 property tax hike in 2016 to fund emergency medical services.”
Hang on to your wallets and purses out there in rural/unincorporated Whatcom County……the tax man has eyes on your property/assets to fund his big jail project and he thinks you’re too stupid to understand the difference, or it’s not lawful, or something. The additional taxes for emergency medical services seems almost an afterthought to Louws.
I know that we recently underwent a sizable property tax increase and I know most other people in our circles did as well. Now there are trees galore out here in the county, so maybe Louws isn’t wrong to think that money just grows naturally on the trees out here in the county? I don’t know, but the current tax burden is painful as it is without any tax increases.
I sure wish I could find these magic money trees….