For the first time in nearly two decades the Snoqualmie City Council did not approve the state allowed 1% tax increase to their annual budget. The 1% increase would’ve added approximately $78,000 to the 2019 budget.
It was clear as the discussion began at the November 26th meeting that three council members were opposed to taking the tax increase. In previous meetings council members noted rapidly rising property taxes hitting local homeowners. In 2018 property taxes increased roughly 20% in Snoqualmie due to the State’s McCleary decision requiring more school funding and rising home assessments.
Councilmember Bob Jeans said at some point the city needed to say no to increase after increase and recognize some older residents were living on fixed incomes.
With Councilmemmber Laase absent, the vote would’ve been split at 3-3 and because it was an ordinance, Mayor Larson could not break the tie. By rule, a tie would mean the ordinance failed. Had Laase been there the measure would’ve also failed as he stated previously he was opposed to the increase.
As a compromise, City Manager Bob Larson suggested a half-percent increase, which Councilmember Jeans said he would support. The amended ordinance passed 4-2, with Councilmembers Holloway and Shepard voting no.
The 1/2 percent increase will cost the owner of a $700,000 Snoqualmie home approximately $8 more in property taxes next year. It adds about one cent to every $1000 of assessed value.
In nearby North Bend, council members also said no to the 1% increase with a unanimous vote. North Bend typically does not take the allowed increase, but did take their banked amount last year to put toward some street/alley repairs.
North Bend has more sales tax revenue than Snoqualmie, which is more property tax dependent with less retail businesses.
Taxing districts by law can only increase their annual budgets by 1% of the previous year’s amount collected. To go above 1% requires a levy lid lift approved by voters. Both cities had until the end of November to let King County know the amount of taxes they would collect in 2019.