Enumclaw council delays property tax decision for two weeks

Dollars and cents were debated Monday night but, in the end, Enumclaw City Council members opted to postpone a decision on the 2012 property tax rate for two weeks.

The establishment of a tax rate for the coming year was up for adoption, but it was acknowledged that waiting two weeks won't slow down the city's budget-making process. A final spending plan for 2012, which includes property taxes, is expected to be adopted Dec. 12.

The primary issue with the tax rate is the money formerly collected for fire protection. With annexation of the city into Fire District 28, the city is no longer spending money on the department and the council has generally agreed that the coming year's tax levy should include a rollback of 89 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property value.That means $222.50 for the owner of property assessed at $250,000.

The city is not required to roll back the rate, however; the council could agree to continue collecting the cash and use it for other purposes. That appears unlikely, based on recent council comments.

It has been proposed, however, that the 89 cents be "banked." State law allows cities to retain unused levy capacity, saving the taxing ability for future needs.

Council members talked favorably Monday of not collecting the 89 cents, but keeping the taxing authority in reserve while discussions proceed early next year about the city's need for street repairs and additions to the police force.The council could implement and collect the banked capacity on its own, but it appears members lean toward asking the public if the money should be spent.

While opting to push a property tax decision to the Nov. 28 meeting, the council also agreed to host another public hearing that night, giving residents the opportunity to offer opinions regarding the tax collection.

During Monday's hearing, no one spoke to the issue.

In other action, the council:

• unanimously approved the preliminary plat application for the Meadow Park housing development. The proposal is to turn almost 10 acres on the city's west side into 24 housing lots, three of which could be for duplex units. The area is directly north of the existing Rainier Trails subdivision and 244th Avenue Southeast is designed as the access road.There were initial concerns that the additional development would impact the nearby intersection of Warner Avenue and Semanski Street. It was determined that the intersection – which is busy twice a day due to high school traffic – will soon receive a failing grade, with or without Meadow Park. Additionally, funds have been identified to improved the troubled intersection.

• heard from citizen Marla Thompson, who objected to the city ordinance that limits parking on city streets to 24 hours. If vehicles sit without moving they can be towed, a circumstance Thompson has experienced through the years. She presented a petition urging that the city's parking prohibition be relaxed.Erwin Plagens spoke in support, explaining his view that more tickets have been handed out in recent years. He urged council to require consistency in the ticketing process.

• were encouraged to participate in the Salvation Army's "bell ringer" program, which raises money for Plateau Outreach Ministries. Mayor Liz Reynolds said volunteers generated $6,300 last holiday season, with approximately 90 percent of that money eventually reaching POM. The organization helps the needy throughout the year with everything from emergency housing to food, utility payments and gas money.

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