Council approves one-time property tax boost for 2017 budget

Deadline looming to set tax rates under state law.

The Ocean Shores City Council held its final public hearing on the proposed 2017 budget last week and voted 5-2 to adopt its property tax rate for next year that includes a one-time 16.2 percent increase over last year’s regular property tax levy, which the city is permitted to take to make up for funds that fell short in recent years due to the devaluation of property.

The requested collection amount of $3.035 million for the general levy includes using a portion of the city’s so-called banked levy capacity — funds it may now collect next year with council approval.

The levy amount from the previous year was $2.6 million, and the additional amount from the one-time property tax proposal would constitute an increase of $425,304.

With the final public hearing on the overall $30 million budget, comments centered on the issue of the tax proposal.

Finance Director Angela Folkers noted the city had reached a deadline and is required to adopt the ordinance specifying its general property tax levy, EMS special levy and 2002 special levy for treatment facilities by Nov. 30.

Former councilman John Schroeder was one of several citizens who criticized the budget process during the public hearing: “All I see in this budget is spending and more spending. We need to have budget cuts. … You are taking that money and using it as a city piggy bank, and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Lillian Broadbent, on the other hand, said the increase “was really not an increase. It replaces the almost exact percentage that we lost inadvertently two years ago through a combination of an error and the drop in property valuations. I believe strongly that we need to take this opportunity to recoup that.”

Councilman Jon Martin agreed to the proposal, but said he had difficulty supporting it without an overall set of budget objectives and principles guiding the council. Council members agreed to draft such principles in the near future.