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Opinion: Enough is enough!

APRIL 5, 2016 | REG NEWBECK

Like most of you, I got my yearly Valentine’s Day present: My property tax for 2016 is up 25.2 percent from last year, and I’m not too happy. To top it off, the Madison Park Community Council (MPCC) announced that it was thinking about yearly dues.

The timing of these two events was not deliberate, but in my view, enough is enough. Not everyone can afford these increased taxes on homes that they owned for years. We, the voters, will have two more chances this November to vote to increase our property taxes — namely Sound Transit’s ST3 and a levy to provide housing support for the homeless.

Property taxes

The current property taxing method uses the land as the determining factor in the value of the property in the eyes of King County. I know of some cases where the land is worth upward of $900,000, and the building is worth less than $20,000. It is very difficult to appeal one’s property tax today given this method.

In the past, the physical house was compared to others, and one could appeal based on comparables. The opportunity to appeal today is limited. In one case, the county claimed that I had a view, and I had them come out to show me. The view had disappeared due to trees obstructing the view.

Senior citizens and disabled people can qualify for tax relief only if their income is less than $35,000. I know of no way that anyone can live on that amount of money, especially in Madison Park and Washington Park. The Washington state Legislature determines this income level, and it has not been increased in years.

I fully understand that the increased property tax is due to the levies that we added by voting for measures such as Move Seattle. New levies may increase this amount again next year. I need to ask how long can we keep using the property tax as a funding source, especially for those on fixed income.

We had to vote for school funding since our Washington state Legislature has been unable to fulfill the state constitutional mandate to fund schools. The state Legislature is under a state Supreme Court order to fund our schools!

Seattle Mayor Murray wants to raise the housing levy to $290 million for seven years to deal with the homelessness problem in Seattle. It would cost a Seattle homeowner (with a median home value of $480,000) about $122 in taxes per year. And now the mayor is talking about additional taxes to increase the size of the police force!

ST3 is expected to be on the ballot this fall. The $20 billion plan would create light rail lines to Everett, Redmond, Kirkland, Eastgate, Federal Way, Tacoma, Ballard and West Seattle. The measure would cost households, on average, nearly $400 in yearly property, car-tab and sales-tax increases. 

The property-tax issues have been a very hotly discussed topic on Nextdoor, with almost 300 responses in a short period. We have a problem when we at the local level need to take over funding for schools, transportation and homelessness from the state and federal governments. I don’t have a solution, but hopefully, you will require our elected officials to come up with a solution.

I know that the people of Seattle have rarely said no to a funding levy, but I believe that will end sooner or later since the property tax is not the solution any longer to the funding problem. We the voters should have the final say about taxing ourselves. The system needs to be equitable and fair, while taking into account those on fixed income. Taxing people out of their homes is not a funding solution.

Council funding

The following is a quote from the MPCC in the March issue of the Madison Park Times: “On the funding issue, we are in contact with the surrounding community councils. It is interesting to note that the Laurelhurst Community Club (not to be confused with the Laurelhurst Beach Club) requests an annual “membership” fee from its area residents… Many households actually contribute $100 per year, and, of course, some much more. It is very much a voluntary system, but it does report an average of more than 40-percent participation. Should we institute something similar?”

It is unfortunate that this funding proposal did not include any suggestions for the monies raised, and the MPCC shouldn’t expect to get a blank check from our community. I encourage the residents of Madison Park, Washington Park, Broadmoor and Denny-Blaine (which comprise MPCC) to discuss this proposal and to suggest how these added funds will be used in our neighborhood.

There also is a question whether the business dues should be applied to home businesses, too. This funding effort at a 40-percent participation rate could raise well more than $100,000. The extra funding for road and pedestrian safety would be great, but shouldn’t this funding come from the city or state?

The residents represented by MPCC must be involved, just like the voters, and MPCC needs to be accountable and communicate just like our elected officials need to do.

 

Reg Newbeck is a Madison Park resident.

 

3 Comments, Join In | Topics: Community Planning, Politics

District 3 City Council Candidate Forum is On YouTube

JUNE 10, 2015 | BOB EDMISTON

160 voters turned out to learn where the five District 3 candidates stand on our issues. Thanks to all of the candidates, those who came out to hear them in person, The Bush School for hosting the event and the volunteers for staffing the event. The audience generated a solid set of tough questions for the lightning and long answer rounds. The waffles went over well enough that nobody had to be paddled. It turned out to be a great opportunity to get to know where the candidates stand on issues of importance to our district. Watch the event on YouTube.

 

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Candidate Forum Reminder

MAY 27, 2015 | LINDY WISHARD

74 people have RSVP’d to attend the Candidate Forum on June 8. We still need another 12 volunteers to help. Can you spare an hour or two?

Please share the Facebook event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1597932883826898/
http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0a4cabae29a2fe3-district

Seattle City Council District 3 Candidate Forum
Monday, June 8th, 7:00 PM
Bush School Auditorium
3400 E Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98112

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Seattle City Council Elections: Why This Year is Important

APRIL 28, 2015 | LINDY WISHARD

This is an unprecedented year in Seattle city politics. This fall, voting for Seattle City Council positions will be by district, a result of a measure Seattle voters passed in 2013. In the upcoming primary and general elections, voters will elect seven out of nine council members by district. The remaining two positions (8 and 9) will be elected “at-large” (citywide). All nine council members will be voted in this year, with the at-large positions having an initial 2-year term.

What does the council do?
The Seattle City Council is the lawmaking body of the city of Seattle, and as such has a great deal of impact on our day-to-day lives. Its nine members are elected to four-year terms in nonpartisan elections. It has the responsibility of approving the city’s budget, and also develops laws and policies intended to promote the health and safety of Seattle’s residents. The Council passes all legislation related to the City’s police, fire, parks, libraries, and electric, water, solid waste, and drainage utilities. The Council is responsible for transportation — both Metro and SDOT. The Council is responsible for laws related to building, development, and the City’s comprehensive plan. The Council is responsible for approving or rejecting increases to property taxes, auto taxes, and a host of other taxes. The council is also influential in legislation related to minimum wage, rent control, and a variety of other hot-button issues. 

What is the point of redistricting?
The idea behind redistricting is that each geographical district should have representation on the city council. That way if a neighborhood has specific needs from the city, in theory, they can go to their district representative to get assistance. 

What district are we in?
Madison Valley, Madison Park, Capitol Hill, Montlake, Madrona, Central District, and Leshi are all part of District 3. View map of District 3.

Which current council members are NOT running?
Sally Clark, Nick Licata, and Tom Rasmussen. Note: the other current council members will run in their districts or at-large. They would need to win a seat at the new council table. 

Who is running in our district? 

Pamela Banks electpamelabanks.com
Morgan Beach morganbeach.org
Rod Hearne rodhearne.com
Kshama Sawant kshamasawant.org
Lee Carter http://leecarterdistrict3.com

How do I learn more about the candidates running in District 3?

Madison Valley and Madison Park are hosting a District 3 Candidate Forum on June 8. The forum is free to the public. 

Seattle City Council District 3 Candidate Forum
Monday, June 8th, 7:00 PM
Bush School Auditorium
3400 E Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98112
Facebook Page

How do I volunteer to help with the candidate forum?
The candidate forum is being organized by community volunteers and we could use your help. 

To volunteer please sign up here.

Volunteer Opportunities:
Set Up Room
Sign In Table
Greet Guests
Greet and Assist Candidates
Put up posters in the community

When Are the Elections?
Primary is August 4, 2015.
Elections are November 3, 2015.

 

Post a Comment | Topics: Politics

Dine Out for 522

AUGUST 23, 2013 | EDITOR

A number of local restaurants have endorsed I-522, the GMO labeling initiative. Among them are Nat Stratton-Clarke of Cafe Flora and Thierry Rautureau of Luc. Cafe Flora is participating along with six other Seattle restaurants in the Dine Out for 522 event on October 3rd. Supporters can purchase a passport for $50 then enjoy a small plate at seven Seattle restaurants on that evening. Read more information about I-522; purchase tickets online. 

Post a Comment | Topics: Health & Beauty, Politics

Here Come the Mayors!

JUNE 19, 2013 | EDITOR

Eight of the candidates for Seattle mayor will attend the Liveable Streets forum to discuss their plans for making Seattle’s streets great places for walking, playing, using transit, shopping, biking, getting to school, and raising a family. 

The event will take place on July 1st, from 7:00–8:30 PM at the MLK F.A.M.E Community Center. Anticipated attendance: Mike McGinn, Peter Steinbrueck, Bruce Harrell, Ed Murray, Charlie Staadecker, Kate Martin, Joey Gray, and Mary Martin.

The event is free, RSVP requested. Register online. 

Transportation: The community center is served by nearby bus routes 8 and 11 and is on the Lake Washington Loop bike route. A by-donation bike valet will be available. There is no off-street car parking.

Childcare will be provided (please register for childcare when you RSVP)

The Livable Streets candidate forum is hosted by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and the Park Shore Retirement Community with support from the Seattle Parks Foundation, Commute Seattle, Sustainable Seattle, Senior Services, Seattle Subway, Feet First, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club, 12th Ave Stewards, Seattle Bike Blog, Futurewise, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, the Madison Park Community Council, West Seattle Bike Connections, and Bike Works. 

About Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Formed in August 2011, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a rapidly growing volunteer coalition representing many neighborhoods across Seattle to identify, advocate for, and activate safe, equitable, and comfortable streets connecting us to the places we use, whether we walk, drive, ride a bike, push a stroller, or move by wheelchair. More information can be found at their website.

Post a Comment | Topics: Community Planning, Politics