LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Is The City Of Burien About To Increase Property Taxes?
To The Editor of the B-town Blog:
On October 29, 2009; The Seattle Times ran a story on the $25 Burien Vehicle Tax/Proposition 1 that is currently on the November ballot. When the reporter asked why a vehicle tax was being used, the mayor of Burien (McGilton) said that â€œA property tax wasnâ€™t considered out of respect for Burienâ€™s relatively conservative voters, less affluent than in levy happy Seattleâ€. However, eight days prior to that story, McGilton and the city had done the opposite and sent a news release to the local newspapers and the B-town Blog announcing a Public Hearing on Nov. 9th to solicit public comments on a proposed, increased property tax (of up to 1%) for Burien. Before voting on Tuesday, November 3rd, every citizen in Burien should question what the heck is really going on.
When I attended the July City of Burien Council Meeting/Public Hearing on the $25 Burien Vehicle Tax/Proposition 1 (for sidewalks and bike paths), I didnâ€™t plan on writing the statement against the $25 Burien Vehicle Tax/Proposition 1. However when no information was presented to the public about: the project costs, the amount to be collected from this tax, what other grants/sources could help with the projects, how much these project streets were actually used, I was frustrated. There were no sketches/diagrams of what the finished work might look like. The City quoted statistics from a 2008 Burien Citizen Survey that were inaccurate.
Citizens asked questions. The City didnâ€™t answer. After the Public Hearing, the Council immediately voted to put the Vehicle Tax on the November ballot. In depressed economic times, the City was asking citizens to rubber stamp a new tax.
The City stated at the Hearing the tax will last two years. That is not true. Under the rules for Transportation Benefit Districts, the tax remains in place until the project is completed and paid for. The City does not have the authority to promise otherwise.
The City had not surveyed the use patterns of the project areas. Both 8th Ave and South 136th have light use by both pedestrians and bikes. Only 13% of the respondents to the 2008 Burien Citizen Survey who live in these areas thought there was a need to improve sidewalks and bike paths.
Some of the endorsers/supporters of the tax canâ€™t answer basic questions about the tax. Many of the endorsers do not live in Burien and will not be paying the tax. The campaign signs are being funded by a legislator from Vashon Island and her aide. In the Seattle Times article, McGilton referred to this vehicle tax as a â€œgood test caseâ€. So, whatâ€™s up?
Joe Fitzgibbons suggested on the Transportation Choices Coalition website that this is a trial balloon to see if Burien can get residents to vote for this type of a tax. Other cities in the state are watching to see if they can use the same strategy to get new taxes from their residents. Iâ€™m not happy to be part of this trial balloon experiment. What am I being tested for? Is it to see if the City of Burien can get a $25 Vehicle Tax and then impose a property tax increase as well on its citizens?
Burien is one of the highest taxed cities in King County. I strongly urge the citizens of Burien to vote â€œNOâ€ against Proposition 1/$25 Burien Vehicle Tax or other new taxes until Burien improves how it presents the need for new taxes to its citizens.
- Chestine Edgar
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