Burien City Council Expected To Declare Opposition To I-1033 Tonight

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by Ralph Nichols

Burien City Council members are expected to declare tonight (Oct. 5) their opposition to Initiative 1033 – Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to reign in government spending revenue.

At last Monday’s (Sept. 28) council meeting, the lawmakers agreed to place the ordinance against I-1033 on tonight’s agenda. Only Councilman Gordon Shaw demurred.

If approved by voters statewide, the proposition, which will appear on November’s general election ballot, would require state, county and city governments to limit their general fund revenues to the amount resulting from inflation, based on a federal economic indicator, and population growth. Any revenue exceeding that formula would have to be used to reduce property taxes.

City Finance Director Tabatha Miller has told council members that restrictions imposed by I-1033 would be “problematic for Burien” because “it does not take into account commercial growth like that envisioned in the Northeast Development Area…. In essence, any commercial growth in the NERA or elsewhere which increased the City’s revenues could not be used to provide the supporting city services, but instead would decrease the next year’s property taxes.”

Miller added that this would force “state and local governments to provide a benefit only to property owners rather than spending general fund revenues on services to benefit the entire community. Services such as education, economic development, transportation, parks, and public safety that have been adversely affected in recent revenue shortfalls are at risk of never recovering under I-1033.

Councilwoman Rose Clark suggested the proposition would but the city “in permanent recession mode,” while Councilwoman Kathy Keene said, “This is absolutely draconian. It’s just awful.”

Shaw countered that I-1033 “would make government take a good, hard look at what it is doing. If I-1033 had been on the books, then I think we would have looked at some of the things we’ve done recently differently.”

But Mayor Joan McGilton voiced concern that its effect “could mean further decreases in police and court services. This is very concerning to me.”

Council members also unanimously adopted a final statement of the city’s key legislative policies for 2010.

These include encouraging economic development, especially in the Northeast area; seeking funding assistance for transportation improvements and other infrastructure needs; opposition to unfunded legislative mandates on local government; seeking funding for local salmon habitat; strengthening local public safety, including emergency preparedness; monitoring legislation relating to annexation of North Highline; and seeking assistance to maintain the city’s parks and recreation system.

In other action, lawmakers unanimously adopted an ordinance amending the fee schedule for filling public records requests and adding a five-day response to these requests.

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