LETTER: ‘What are the New Taxes and Fees and Rates’ for Annexation?

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To the Editor:

What new taxes, franchise fees and user fees will Area Y/ White Center residents, residential property owners and business owners have to pay to be part of Burien?

What are the new taxes and fees and their rates?

When Mike Martin/Burien city Manager was asked this question at this at the October 18, 2012 annexation informational meeting-see the White Center Now Blog video-he was unable to answer the question. He had his management assistant bring him the booklet and he read it to the audience. While Mr. Martin claimed that he was sure it was only $140 per year, he had no idea of how this number was arrived at. In another brochure that Burien put out on annexation, it claimed the fee would be $155 per year for a residential property valued at $200,000. The North Highline Unincorporated Council has stated that the tax increase will be about $10 per month or $120 per year. All of these figures are wrong because the amount depends on so many variables.

Here are some important things to consider in trying to figure out how much your taxes will go up in Area Y, if you end up annexed to Burien;

  1. The figures presented on the cost break out shown on the city sheet titled “Impact to Average Household” doesn’t mention that these new taxes will apply to all residents and not just property owners.
  2. Apartment renters as well as property owners will see new taxes and fees attached to their utility bills that have never been there before. If you don’t own a home you will still see a significant tax increase or increase in your rent.
  3. Burien claims that the City levies a 3% utility tax on electric and a 6% utility tax on cable, gas, garbage and telephone utilities. Seattle City Light customers in Burien also pay a special fee for undergrounding of utilities along 1st Ave. S. based upon usage.

However, when you go over the actual bills, the fees for some utilities appear to be different than what Burien has shown on its Impact sheet.

Cable appears to be taxed 7.7% rather than 6% because of the additional franchise fees. People who bundle will pay more taxes on their phone services than people who do not bundle services with their cable. A cable bill of $125.32 per month paid $9.90 in taxes, surcharges and fees to Burien.

Electricity will be higher than shown by the city because the underground wiring fee is based on units of usage. People use more electricity during the winter. Those people using electricity for heating in the winter will experience a significant increase in their electric bill. The fees shown by the City in its example sheet may not be in line with real electrical costs depending on how many people reside at the location, their ages and the age of the structure they live in. Underground wiring fees for a home not on electric heat ranges from approximately $5 to $8 per month.The electricity fees are so well hidden, it is hard to tease out all of the real fees in a bill that go to Burien.

Telephone fees shown are not realistic for today’s cost. The phone services are charged at a rate of 6.382% for both hardline service and cell phones. Depending on what is your phone plan, the telephones-hardline and celluar –will probably cost you more than $70 per month for phone service. A cell phone bill of $100 dollars per month will cost a citizen $63.82 per year in new taxes.

The cost of garbage per month shown does not match the amount that is currently charged to Burien residents. It will cost an additional $3.00 per month over what is being shown by the city for the min. amount of service that the average home can buy.. Business pays at a different rate than residential for pick up. Expect an increase in your garbage costs or rent to cover this.

The Fire rate will increase to cover the new emergency program that must be developed for the North Highline Fire Dept. and to cover the North Highline Fire Dept. retirement program.

The storm water rate will increase by approx. $14 per year in 2013 and will continue to need to increase annually for at least four to five years beyond that because the area needs to raise $23 million dollars in five years to cover its deficit storm water facilities-Berk Report.

Natural Gas fees-Burien tax fees shown on the bill are at 6.67% . The cost of cooking, the hot water tank, dryer, heating and a furnace exceeds $40 per month . This estimate is simply not realistic for 2 people in a residence much less a family.

Additionally the City’s estimate does not take in to account that the property tax rate will have to increase because Burien is currently using money from its reserves to balance the budget.

Based on these above factors and analysis of actual citizen bills, the tax increase for two people living in a single family residence far exceeds the projected tax increase of $140 that Mr. Martin and the City of Burien have predicted. And taxes and fees far exceed the estimate of $10 per month by the NHUAC. These hidden taxes and fees nickel and dime citizens to death and are difficult to get a handle on.

Businesses will be even hit harder by these new fees. They pay at a different rate and use the utilities at a higher unit rate than the average home or apartment. Some businesses will be paying thousands of dollars more per year to do business in Burien.

Burien must continue to increase these rates because it can’t bring in enough revenue through property taxes. Currently Burien takes in less money than it needs to spend to run the city. Area Y residents, joining Burien will really increase your taxes annually-much more that $10 per month or $140 dollars pre year- and you will get less in services.

The problem with these new taxes is that they impact Area Y families, citizens on fixed incomes & limited incomes much harder than wealthier citizens. At this time and in this economy, any increase is too much to bear, especially when it doesn’t include improvement.

– Debi Wagner
Independent White Center

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14 Responses to “LETTER: ‘What are the New Taxes and Fees and Rates’ for Annexation?”
  1. John Public says:

    Hmmmm. So, why should we believe you? I see a lot of statements but no way to verify or fact check.

    What are your credentials in public finance, public management, public policy or any other public endeavor?

    • John Poitras says:

      Hmmmm John Public? Is your middle initial Q? 😉 LOL

      She used her real name .. I think it more likely she is telling the truth since she has the courage to publish her REAL NAME and is standing by her analysis.. Whereas you are just another anonymous troll from the Pro Annexation pack.

    • Ann says:

      I am not someone who usually responds to any of the comments I see posted on this blog. Especially, when Annexation is discussed…pro and against.

      However, I have to agree with Debi. I live in Burien and the utility fees are ridiculous. They are not the 6% the city has been promoting. I am a single homeowner and I’m sure I pay $20 – 30 in city utility taxes each month…depending on the amount of the bill. Anyone who has a cell phone with a Burien address will also get to pay.

      Also, not stated but don’t be surprised if the additional $10 vehicle license fee that current Burien residents pay is not levied on the newly Annexed area at budget time next year.

    • Mike says:

      @jpublic, why don’t you show something that proves otherwise? Too difficult? Even Martin can’t come up with figures to support his $140. Neither can Jerry Robison Atty, he states the same thing. Everyone knows he lies. He never once mentioned during his campaign he was pro-annexation. Then he fails to mention (along w/all the others) he’s a main contributor to the people for Burien PAC. Plus he’s a lawyer so you know he’s lying. Come on man! Show us the proof that its $140

  2. TcB says:

    Oh my god give it a REST

  3. Brent says:

    Mr. Public Welcome to the world of John Poitras and Debi Wagner. They love to make a lot of statements and they don’t have the facts to back them up. When John Poitras was writing under the name of William Forest (he got busted) the people on the blog called his “facts” factoids because he twisted the truth to match his whim.
    It is so funny that he now says Debi must be telling the truth because she uses her real name. Does that mean that Poitras constantly lies because he uses false names? John has not figured out that the reason a lot of people will not use their real name on the blog is they don’t want the nut jobs knowing who they are.
    Next he will accuse you of not living in Burien. I have lived here for 50 years and he still accused me of not living here.
    Thank God tomorrow is election day and this whole thing will be behind us.

    • John Poitras says:

      Brent.. Why are you such a coward ?.. .Use your real name and maybe someone will take you seriously.. As it stands all you are is a stalking attack dog for the pro-annexation PAC and your credibility is less than zero.

      • Brent says:

        John (or whatever name you are using today) Why is it that it is so important for someone to use their last name in order for them to be taken seriously by you. You used a first and last name ie. William Forest, and no one took you seriously. I am not going to use my last name because I see the hatred in everything you write and I will not put myself or my family in harm from a nut job like you. I feel sorry for you in the fact that you have so much negativity spewing from you. If you dislike Burien so much, MOVE AWAY. Try some other city that you might like better.

        • Debi Wagner says:

          Brent if you think for a minute that anyone besides you sees John as a nut-job or any kind of threat to the safety of anyone you are sadly misguided. John has done absolutely nothing to give anyone anything other than facts, figures and data and you constantly twist those statements around accusing and spewing vitriol. You start with the offensive remarks and he defends. It is obvious you are the aggressor. You try to mar his reputation which is outstanding while hiding behind anonymity like a coward yourself while accusing him of the same. And if you believe for a minute that we don’t know who you are you are mistaken again. There are only a handful of people, all of them politicians in Burien supporting annexation and their names are on the books for People for Burien. I’ve seen these type of remarks over and over posted by Dr. McDreamy, Daniel Bone, JLutz, now Brent, etc. You are all the same person or closely related in time and space as Greg Duff, JJ Grieve, Gordon Shaw, Jim Clingan.

        • John Poitras says:

          Brent.. Hatred..??
          Take a look in the mirror buddy.. You are so vitriolic you are scary>>> Did you know that trying to project your own anger on others is the classic definition of someone that should seek psychiatric help before they blow a gasket and hurt themself or someone else.

          You are the CLASSIC TROLL.. You are all about attacking people and have no interest whatsoever in a dialogue.. Now that annexation has gone down in flames maybe its time for YOU to move because you are definitely not in sync with the majority of the residents in the area and frankly I am sick and tired of your whole vitriolic spew.

          And be honest Brent you don’t want to use your last name because you don’t want to take responsibility for your own emotional problems.

    • startingrumors says:

      I think they are fooling around..*lol*

  4. Coverofnight says:

    Thank you Debi for this information; I found your figures to be reasonable as I pay these, too. I only hope that the good voting people of White Center are aware of the greater financial burden they’ll have to bear if they become citizens of Burien.

    And to Mike regarding his comments on Jerry and lawyers…..God bless you, man! Thumbs up to you (and 2 fingers to lawyers).

  5. jimmy says:

    yeah one more day of this bs wait nope you guys will find something else to complain about hey jonh what is going to be your next fake name is it going to be roger,frank,tom,bill,pat,ted,ned,fred,dan,Dick, or many,sandy,shamika,shanana,tammy,april,sussy or have you not pick one yet

  6. JustAnotherBurienCitizen says:

    When the roads all turn to gravel and your fire department is staffed by all volunteers, I guess you guys can fall back on the fact you didn’t have to pay some extra taxes. Why don’t you guys just start complaining about the placement of the Pro Annexation signs some more?

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