As reported in The Olympian this last November 8, “A sharply divided state Supreme Court has struck down a six-year-old citizen initiative that capped yearly increases in property taxes to 1 percent.” The 5-4 court decision said that Initiative 747 was unconstitutional because it amended a law that didn’t exist any longer in the form the initiative stated. According to The Olympian, “I-747 limited yearly increases in local governments’ property taxes to 1 percent, unless voters approved more. An exception was made to allow additional collections for new construction.”
To make matters more interesting, local governments are to tell county taxing agencies by November 30 what their tax requests will be for 2008.
Tim Eyman, whose organization created I-747, wrote in an e-mail following the court’s decision, that local governments “will be like pigs at the trough.”
“Taxpayers now face the nightmare scenario,” he said. “We’re in for absolute chaos.”
In the couple of weeks that have followed, it seems likely the nightmare scenario he described was the product merely of political posturing. What is equally clear, though, is that those of us in Thurston County have a front-row seat to important events – events we can influence.
Once State Attorney General Rob McKenna decided that an appeal was unlikely to produce a different result, Governor Gregoire called a special session of the Legislature. The date she chose was one when representatives were already going to be in town, preparing the the normal session beginning in January. That special session begins this Thursday, November 29.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
PUBLIC HEARING – NOV 29
The House Finance Committee will have a public hearing at 8:15 AM November 29 in Hearing Room B of the O’Brien Building. The Senate Ways & Means Committee has not yet announced its hearing time. Stick around and watch the House and Senate from the galleries.
Click this link for information about visiting the Capitol campus.
WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES – Tell them whether you support a cap or what kind of cap, what limits and what exceptions.
Senator Tim Sheldon
Representative Kathy Haigh
Representative William “Ike” Eickmeyer
We have already read reports the Olympia City Council has made it known they might seek an increase in property taxes. Tumwater and Lacey have both announced they will hold to the 1 percent cap.
The Olympian recently reported, “The general Thurston County property tax rate will drop from $1.21 per $1,000 of assessed value this year to $1.04 per $1,000 next year, under a preliminary $269.3 million 2008 budget set for unveiling Monday [Nov 19].” The general property tax affects all county residents. It does not include city, school or road taxes in unincorporated areas of the county.
A lot of us were stunned, earlier this Fall, when our property assessments arrived. Some of us were able to file appeals. For most of us, though, the bottom line is what the tax impact of those assessments will now be. Participating in this week’s special session may prove to be very good tonic.
— MARK MESSINGER