News

I-864 threat gone, but voters may still decide tax question

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Federal Way’s 2005-06 budget deficit will be limited to $2 million since Tim Eyman failed to gather the required signatures to put Initiative 864 on the ballot, but City Council members might ask voters to approve a levy lid lift anyway to maintain a stable property tax rate into the future.

Faced with making cuts to several city programs, officials expressed interest in asking citizens whether they want to approve a measure to set the property tax rate at $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed value to preserve some of those services. City finance director Iwen Wang said that would bring in about $240,000 annually.

The council directed staff to provide more information at least 45 days before the September deadline to get a lid lift on the November ballot.

Initiative 747, which passed in 2001, barred governments from raising the property tax rate more than 1 percent a year. Because of that, city officials said, the city’s property tax rate has declined year to year, though residents pay more in property taxes annually because of rising property values.

Councilman Jim Ferrell was the lone dissenter on the council, saying it would be offensive to ask Federal Way voters to approve a lid lift.

“When this issue was first raised, I thought it was in response to I-864 so we wouldn’t be found on our heels,” he said, adding he wouldn’t support a request to put a lid lift on the ballot now that I-864 is no longer an immediate threat.

But because Eyman, the anti-tax advocate, said he plans to introduce another property tax rollback initiative next spring, Ferrell’s colleagues were supportive of seeking a lid lift — particularly because Federal Way voters would have the opportunity to say yes or no in an election.

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