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King County Journal, October 6, 2005

Issaquah mayor proposes $24.4 million budget for 2006

Chris Winters

ISSAQUAH -- The city will spend $24.4 million on basic operations in 2006, according to Mayor Ava Frisinger.

In presenting her proposed budget, Frisinger also proposed that the city raise its property tax levy by 1 percent in order to maintain vital services and compensate for a 2.3 percent rise in inflation.

Not all council members were sold on the idea of a 1-percent hike, however. Hank Thomas said the increase wouldn't yield enough revenue to make it worthwhile.

``My feeling is that we should not increase taxes on people just because we can, we should only increase taxes when we must, and when the taxpayers say we can,'' Thomas said.

Councilman Joe Forkner, on the other hand, thinks the increase is reasonable and more palatable to the public.

``A little bit every year is easier to take than a lot in one year, or two years or three years,'' he said.

If the 1-percent rise is approved, the city's take would be $4.53 million, or 18.5 percent of the general fund budget. That would set the city's portion of the tax rate at $1.54 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, actually a decrease from this year's rate of $1.60 per $1,000.

The city sets the maximum amount of money it can collect through its portion of the property tax levy. Dividing that number by the total assessed valuation of all property in the city yields the levy rate, which, because of steady inflation in valuations, is actually decreasing.

City Administrator Leon Kos said that because Issaquah continues to grow, the actual levy rate has decreased steadily over the years.
``People might see a reduction in the city-collected portion of the property tax,'' he said.
Unless the increase in valuations, which the city does not control, outpaces the growth.
The city's portion of the tax levy is also just a portion of the total tax levied on Issaquah residents. The Issaquah School District's levy is more than twice as large.
Other elements of the budget include $13.5 million in various capital funds, including the $6.3 million Capital Improvement Fund and the $3 million fund paying for the centralized Intelligent Transportation System in and around central Issaquah.
Various line items include funding for two more police officers and more parks maintenance staff, who would be hired about the same time Issaquah would nearly double in size if it annexes the unincorporated neighborhoods of Klahanie and South Cove/Greenwood Point.
``It seemed like to me that it was a good news kind of budget,'' council President Fred Butler said.

Chris Winters can be reached at chris.winters@kingcountyjournal.com or 425-453-4232.


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