I am an Olympia resident, and a former Thurston PUD Commissioner.
I support quality fire service, and recognize the need for adequate funding to assure an adequate and capable response to emergencies.
The current proposal has two features that are unacceptable to me.
The first is the Reverse Robin Hood feature quietly buried in the Fire Benefit Charge formula. The second is the $1.3 million adverse impact on Olympia parks funding.
The proposal before you is $.23/SF for a small apartment owned by a local family, dropping to $.03/SF for a large apartment complex owned by a national corporation. This can be solved by applying a uniform Fire Benefit Charge per square foot for all residential buildings and perhaps a different charge per square foot for all commercial buildings.
The “square root” has to be removed from the fire benefit charge formula. I urge the Committee to remove that tonight and use a uniform fee per square foot.
My other concern is the adverse impact on Olympia parks funding. This is an Olympia issue, not a Tumwater issue, and I think the City Council members understand how this works. I am providing the Olympia City Council members language that could be incorporated into the Interlocal Agreement with the Olympia Metropolitan Parks District to keep parks funding whole. That language must be adopted BEFORE this measure goes to the ballot.
I’ve been involved in a lot of elections. My environmental friends will not vote for a measure that reduces funding for parks and open space, as this proposal does. My economic justice friends will not vote for a measure which steals from the poor and gives to the rich, as this proposal does.
And there are LOTS of people in our community who will not vote for a big tax or fee increase of any kind. I’m hard-pressed to think of who WOULD vote for this proposed measure as written.
There is an alternative to this proposal that is easier, more equitable and avoids all of the problems this measure has.
That alternative is a levy lid lift to restore adequate property tax revenue, reversing the damage caused by initiatives our community did not support. It would generate more funds for fire and more funds for police, parks, and potholes. It requires only a 50% vote.
That is the better choice.
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Tuesday, November 15 Report this