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Voters OK tax bump to provide firefighters

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

Enumclaw residents won't start paying higher property taxes until next year, but the firefighters they authorized during a Feb. 8 vote will be on the job much sooner.

Everything awaits City Council approval, but it appears the city will fund the positions this spring.

City residents were asked Feb. 8 if they would like to increase local property taxes by 9.3 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The measure, which generated nearly 75 percent support, was advisory only, and must be acted upon by the council.

City Attorney Mike Reynolds, who is serving as acting city administrator while Mark Bauer recuperates from back surgery, said the city could notify King County this month to bump up the tax rate. On the 8th, voters didn't actually increase the rate; rather, they passed a ballot measure asking the City Council to implement some "banked" taxing authority.

The additional tax dollars will pay for two full-time firefighters and increase a job in the dispatching office from part-time to full-time status.

Bauer had previously indicated, and Reynolds confirmed, the city could fund the new positions immediately. Money will likely be taken from reserve accounts, then repaid once the additional tax money comes in.

The additional taxes will be collected effective Jan. 1, 2006, but the city won't see the money until March or April of next year, according to Finance Director Gary Smalling.

The tax increase will result in an additional $18.60 levied annually against the owner of property valued at $200,000.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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