Snoqualmie Voters will Decide whether to Increase Taxes for more Police officers, Firefighters

city of snoqualmie

They Snoqualmie City Council voted unanimously at its July 25th meeting  to place a measure on the November 8th ballot asking voters to approve a levy lid lift to pay for two additional police officers and one additional fire fighter.

According to a staff report, following the City Council Retreat in February, it was determined that additional funds were needed in order to maintain the city’s current public safety service levels.

Over the past 15 years, Snoqualmie’s population has tripled, yet per the report, the fire department has only added two firefighter positions and the number of police officers is the same as it was back in 2000.

The City says in order to maintain appropriate service levels for police, fire and emergency services – more funding is needed, but per state law, any individual taxing district is limited in increasing its portion of property taxes to one percent annually. If a taxing district wants to go above that 1% limit, like the City of Snoqualmie is proposing, it must be approved by a simple majority of voters.

According to a city press release, “The additional positions would enable the City to maintain appropriate levels of service for police, fire, and emergency medical services for Basic Life Support and emergency response; meet the Snoqualmie Fire Department’s goal and nationally recognized service standard of having three firefighters on duty 24 hours a day available to respond to more than one fire or emergency medical call at a time; maintain current response times to 911 calls; and maintain the “No Call Too Small” community standard of responding to every 911 call.”

The ballot measure will ask voters living within the city limits of Snoqualmie to consider raising the city’s regular property tax levy by [up to] .23 per $1000 of assessed valuation, effective in 2017.

 

 

For the owner of the average $530,000 Snoqualmie home, the cost would be about $120 per year or $10 per month. For a $265,000 Snoqualmie home, the cost would be about $61 per year or $5 per month.

 

Snoqualmie City Hall. Photo: City of Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie City Hall. Photo: City of Snoqualmie

 

Comments

  1. Here we go again… suck more money from us for no reason other than a weak data point. I would like to see more cops walking the neighborhoods in the evenings. More community policing. Less driving around in unmarked cars wearing armor and guns. BTW, the link to the report does not serve up the document.

    • I believe SNOPD has one unmarked car. Without armor or guns, what do you expect the cop walking around in the neighborhood to do when confronted with a crime? Wearing concealed armor and a gun is a nationally recognized best practice. Do you not want SNOPD to meet this minimum standard?

  2. If the population has tripled, then the property tax has tripled (at least!), so the expenditure on public safety had tripled. If the number of officers remains the same, does this mean that each officer is paid 3x as much today as in 2000?

  3. Our schools got stuck with the same lack of foresight. we new population was going to triple. similarly, tax revenues should have also tripled. What is being done with the money/impact fees?

  4. Kimberly Ewing says

    I agree, if population has tripled it only makes sense that tax base has tripled as well and should be quite enough to provide essential public services like police and firefighters. What are increased taxes really for? Also, If the process which resulted in the hire of police officer Nicholas Hogan is any indication, we as Snoqualmie citizens need much more information regarding how our public servants are chosen, before turning over hard earned tax dollars to hire more. Ever since he started working here in 2014, officer Hogan has been mired in controversy stemming from a long history of aggressive, untrustworthy and bigoted behavior. As reported in Living Snoqualmie and Seattle Times, he has already been pulled off the street to administrative duty and most recently federally indicted for use of excessive force. He was fired from Tukwila for his disturbing pattern of violent behavior and his subsequent applications for employment as a police officer were denied by four other cities, before being FINALLY hired by Snoqualmie. For over a year, citizens have been asking why this officer was hired by Snoqualmie. Responses from the city thus far seem evasive at best, yet they want our money and votes.

    • Danna McCall says

      I am not sure there is a correlation per say that if population triples, the tax base would. The taxes come from home property taxes and one home can house a family of six. Apartment homes can also house many residents. Also, as taxing districts can only legally raise taxes by 1% annually, many cities have often cited that the 1% doesn’t keep up with certain costs involved with employee benefits, maintaining streets, etc.

      • Hi Danna, the report link is broken. It points to your local file folders, not a public document.

      • No, there’s a correlation. The reason the population on the city of Snoqualmie has tripled over the past three years is that the number of homes in Snoqualmie has tripled, not because every home on Snoqualmie used to house only two people and now houses six. I assume we all know this–why pretend otherwise?

        “Costs involved with employee benefits” would be what employees are paid. “Costs,” “compensation,” “paid” are different words for the same thing. So: where has the money gone? Does anyone know?

  5. Anyone asked a police officer what he thinks? And why?.

  6. Police is only part of the equation, what about firefighters? the national standard is three and we should be at, or exceeding, that level. I won’t even begin to address the faulty logic in correlation between population and tax breaks. Do a simple search on that issue and you will see hundreds of documented and peer reviewed studies that clearly dispute the strength of that correlation. There is a one, but it is not 1:1. If only the world and real life economics were as simple as some want to believe. Anyway, $10 a month is hardly worth getting all excited about. Its one less Starbucks a month to have better fire and EMS coverage. That alone sounds like a bargain, regardless of the police issue.

    • Where is this published? Why would we be expected to meet a “national standard”? Why should we be so special as to exceed a “national standard”? How about simply meeting the needs of the city? Snoqualmie is doing just fine, even if it is below the “national standard”. That sounds like a political data point to get more money from tax payers. B.S. I wasn’t aware we have problems with police, fire and EMS coverage. I have not seen or heard any reports of fire/police unable to timely respond to an incident. On the contrary, we have this report: http://www.theeastside.news/snovalleystar/news/local/snoqualmie-police-chief-recaps-crime-stats-for-the-first-half/article_5ca6a58e-52b6-11e6-bae0-d3655bdbc746.html Nice job guys!!!
      My beef with any tax increase is the idea $10 here, $10 there, ad infinitum “is only a latte”. B.S. We are nickeled and dimed to death in King County and the City of Snoqualmie is attempting to pile more on us. Enough.

  7. The city’s financial information is available at http://www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us/DepartmentsandPrograms/FinanceAdministration/FinanceOffice.aspx ; however, the data is somewhat spotty, so in what follows the years will jump around a bit.

    In 2006, Snoqualmie property taxes were $2.4 million; in 2015 they were $6.4 million, or 2.7x the 2006 amount. Although Snoqualmie’s web site does not post numbers before 2006, it is clear that property tax revenues are now more than 3x whatever they were 15 years ago.

    In 2010, all city taxes were $9.5 million; in 2013, $11.9 million; and in 2015, $11.3 million. So all tax revenues were 19 pct. higher in 2015 than in 2010.

    In 2010, public safety expense was $4.9 million; in 2013 (the most recent year for which numbers are posted), $6.0 million. So the public safety expense increased 22 pct. from 2010 to 2013, apparently with no police officers being added.

    The city web site doesn’t give the number of police officers, apparently the same as 15 years ago. However, a third-party web site gives the number as 14, for an expenditure in 2013 of $429 thousand per police officer, up from $350 thousand in 2010.

    When discussing matters of finance, it helps to have the numbers; and these are the numbers we have. One might be more or less willing to forego one (or two, or three) cup(s) of Starbucks coffee, per month, but the decision becomes easier when one knows what one is sacrificing for.

  8. This is Joan Pliego, Communications Program Manager for the City of Snoqualmie. I have read your comments and will work with staff to put together a fact sheet to answer these questions. If you would like to receive it, please email me at info@ci.Snoqualmie.wa.us. I will also post it on the website. When you have questions or comments about city programs, business, or events, or when you would like to have reports that you cannot find on our website, please send them to me via the email box or call me at 425-888-1555 ext. 1125. That would be the most efficient way for me to answer your questions or find the right staff person who can. I do not monitor the Living Snoqualmie comment box. Thank you, Joan Pliego (P.S. I will not be monitoring further comments on this box regarding this topic. Please email me directly and I will respond. Thank you.)

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