Local News

Woodinville property taxes to stay the same in 1996

property taxes by Jeff Switzer
The 1996 property taxes for residents of the City of Woodinville are to stay at the same level they've been since incorporation.
    Voting 7-0, the Woodinville City Council had the second reading and adoption of an ordinance setting the amount of property taxes to be collected at $1,376,000, which translates into about $1.60 per $1,000 in assessed valuation.
    Mayor Lucy DeYoung expressed her concern about setting tax levels at this point.
    "I'm very upset about passing this tax ordinance before passing the budget," DeYoung said. "This is a poor way of budgeting."
    The ordinance also comes before the state assessed utilities figures have come in, reflecting instead the figures from last year.
    In light of this, the rate could fall below $1.60 per $1,000, while still raising the requisite revenue.
    The Revised Code of Washington specifies that property tax levies should be set by mid-November, with some latitude.
    Jim Katica, city treasurer/clerk, said the city is allowed to increase taxes up to six percent more than the previous year, to as much as $2.10 per $1,000, but the city council is adhering to its promise not to raise taxes.
    In the staff report regarding the issue, Katica mentioned that with the council's long-range goals, they might want to consider assessing a slightly higher tax.
    The report notes that council priorities, such as neighborhood parks, trails, sidewalks, and street improvements, often list councilmanic bonds as sources of funding.
    "Without the revenue source to pay the debt service from councilmanic bonds, there is the distinct likelihood that operating funds would have to be shifted from existing operations," the report states.
    At their Oct. 23 study session, Mayor DeYoung asked staff to prepare some numbers examining a tax increase to fund the Jerry Wilmot Green Gateway Park, an increase that was described as "temporary" and specifically for the park.
    Since then, the Finance Committee for the park, chaired by Councilmember Don Brocha, said it felt an increase in taxes to finance the park might be early.
    The park committee will be looking at other funding sources, including grants and donations to kick off the project, though will not necessarily exclude city contributions.
    DeYoung noted that special items could warrant the need for a tax increase, and that the council said they would consider it.
    "To not have this discussion would mean we're not doing a complete job," DeYoung said.
    Brocha said the council could live and die by the the phrase, "We will not raise taxes."
    "We should stop talking about taxes and start talking about what we want to do in Woodinville," Brocha said.

In other council news:
    The council had first and second reading of an ordinance amending the Uniform Fire Code, originally passed in June with some flaws that left the city with some liabilities.
    The ordinance passed 5-1-1, with Councilmember Engel voting against, and Councilmember Dixon abstaining.
    Engel said she voted against the measure because the council procedures were suspended, allowing for first and second reading at the same time.
    The June ordinance stated that buildings with "three or more units" had to be sprinklered. Upon review, the fire district informed the council that when the new fire code was adopted, it should have read "five or more units," which was the intent of the council.
    City staff indicated that the Uniform Fire Code is a several-thousand page document, and although the city staff, council, and fire department were involved in examining the document, some points were missed, leaving the city liable if the ordinance was not altered.
    The issue is scheduled to be revisited at the Nov. 20 study session, where representatives from the fire district will be asking for other changes to the city's fire code.