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July 28, 2011
3 levies likely to appear on ballot
EDMONDS, Washington (STPNS) -- The Edmonds City Council came one step closer to including a levy on the November ballot. But they probably won’t have one levy, they’ll have three.
By a 5-2 vote they approved a motion by council member Steve Bernheim to direct city attorney Jeff Taraday to prepare a set of three levies for discussion at next weeks’ council meeting for discussion and a vote.
Those three levies will be three-year lid lift levies.
One will total $1 million and be dedicated to street overlays. For an average Edmonds home, valued at $375,000, that will add about $59 to the yearly tax bill.
The second levy would be dedicated to the General Fund and total $1 million also, adding another $59 to the average Edmonds tax bill.
This levy was originally proposed as $750,000 by Bernheim, but that figure was raised to $1 million by an amendment by Strom Peterson.
And there was opposition on that amendment, even though it passed.
“I can’t, in good conscience, ask the voters to approve the General Fund ordinance when 54 percent of it (wages and benefits) has not been addressed,” Council member Michael Plunkett said.
“I won’t support that amendment,” Council member Diane Buckshnis said. “There are too many variables. I think the numbers need to be scrubbed a little more, but we’re doing good.”
The amendment passed 4-3 with council members Fraley-Monillas, Wilson, Peterson and Bernheim voting in favor and Buckshnis, Petso and Plunkett voting against.
The third levy will be dedicated to deferred maintenance and parks and total $500,000, adding about $30 per year to the average tax bill.
It’s important to remember that all three of these levies, if passed, will expire after three years.
“The law doesn’t allow us to raise this amount of taxes,” Bernheim said. “Only the voters can do that. They are an important part of the budget process.
“I’m not promoting a yes vote, I’m promoting a people vote. Let the voters decide what is important to them.”
Just the process of deciding how many levies has been up for discussion, but Council President Strom Peterson acknowledged he felt there were more important issues than that.
“Multiple ballots are not my preferred method,” he said. “But I’m willing to concede that point to move ahead with this.”
Bernheim also felt the three-year lid lift levy was right for the time also, instead of a possible permanent levy.
“When it’s over, it’s over,” he said. “In the meantime we have the opportunity to do responsible things with the city to gain the voters trust.”
The motion to bring the three levies back next week passed with council members Wilson and Plunkett voting against, and Bernheim, Buckshnis, Fraley-Monillas, Petso and Peterson voting in favor of.
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