Council approves city levy increase, restricts new tax funds for street improvements

At its November 21st meeting, the North Bend City Council did something it had not done in many years: approved increasing the city’s property tax levy – and did so with the intent of improving city infrastructure.

Each November, cities across the state have to decide if they will take the allowable 1% taxing district levy increase. Initiative 747 (“the Eyman Initiative’) limits annual property tax levy increases to 1%. Larger levy lid lifts have to be approved by voters.

The Snoqualmie City Council regularly approves the 1% lift – including this year – but in past years the North Bend City Council was reluctant to impose the small increase.

This year, though, the council approved it, plus the city’s ‘banked capacity,” which is basically the 1% increase the city did not take in past years. State statute allows taxing districts to ‘bank’ the allowable 1% increase if they don’t take it.

Former State Department of Revenue Director Cindi Holmstrom described the purpose of banked capacity: “to encourage taxing districts to levy only what they need rather than the most they can get…They don’t lose it if they don’t use it.”

The North Bend City Council approved the 1% increase [$15,821] plus their banked capacity [$52,901], BUT, the council also added language to the motion that restricts the annual budget increase of $68,721 for use on “pavement overlays for neighborhood streets.”

The motion passed 4-2 with Councilmembers Kostanich and Rosen voting no.

Even with the approved increase, the City of North Bend tax levy is expected to decrease from $1.29 in 2017 to $1.22 in 2018 due to a sharp increase in assessed values and new home construction.

According to North Bend Public Works Director Mark Rigos, this new annual funding will be will not be used for projects contained in the city’s Transportation Improvement Plan. It will used to improve public alleyways, including new pavement, proper pavement slope, pavement widening, stormwater collection, and stormwater conveyance.

Rigos said North Bend has approximately 25 alleys – most located in the downtown core – many of which are heavily deteriorated due to poor construction methods used decades ago. He said conditions have also been exacerbated by heavy garbage trucks pounding the thin asphalt and the general lack of stormwater collection and conveyance.

Alleys that need improvements will be ranked in priority of Highest, Higher and High by the Public Works Department based on factors that include “ADT, number of potholes, depth of potholes, likelihood of vehicle damage, proximity to schools and overall public safety concern.”

Rigos commented, “Our Department is elated to design proper infrastructure, enhance driving and walking conditions, and improve quality of life for North Bend residents.”

The 2017 City of North Bend’s regular property tax levy of $1.53 million levy will increase to approximately $1.65 million in 2018. That total also includes new construction and the re-levy of prior year refunds.


Photo: City of North Bend council agenda packet.








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