Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Cashmere City Council discusses potential new taxes to boost revenue amid rising costs

Posted

CASHMERE — The Cashmere City Council discussed potential new taxes to increase city revenues at their May 13 meeting. Mayor Jim Fletcher initiated the discussion, explaining to the Council that before budget planning begins and before any decisions are made, he wanted to have early discussions and education about where the city obtains its General Fund revenue and options for new sources of revenue. Fletcher suggested that this would provide the public and Council with a background and an understanding of the options.

Fletcher provided the Council with the list of current fees and taxes that provide the city with revenue. Property, sales and utility taxes supply the city with the majority of the revenue for the General Fund. Fletcher explained that some of these, such as the Liquor and Cannabis Excise taxes are imposed by the state and that the monies are passed through the city to other entities.

Fletcher also provided the Council with a list of possible new revenue sources that could be used to help address the increased costs Cashmere is experiencing. These include a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) (a potential .1% - .3% increase in sales tax, with the funds designated for use on transportation projects) and an additional .25% tax on real estate sales with revenues designated for capital projects. Neither of these would require voter approval if the TBD rate is .1%. Other new tax options requiring voter approval include a TBD of >.1%, a Bond Levy, a levy on EMS medical services, and a Levy Lift on property taxes.

Fletcher recommended that anything requiring a vote be on a general election ballot not be added to this year’s ballot. He said this would allow the city to communicate with the public and to get their opinions about the options. 

At this first glance of the options, some council members indicated that they tended to favor either the Transportation Benefit District and/or the additional real estate sales tax. Jeff Johnson felt that visitors to Cashmere would also be paying the additional sales tax and helping fund city streets. Chris Carlson said that he does not like the idea of the additional Real Estate tax. Shela Pistoresi suggested that knowing how much additional money the city needs is important. Fletcher responded that a starting point was to find a way to pay for this year’s $75,000 increase in the jail’s budget and that the city’s budget is playing catch-up to inflation as it is trying to survive on current revenue. He added that the way the property tax law is written, each year the city can only get a 1% increase to the previous year’s revenue. This increase amounts to about $7000 - $8000 annually, which does not keep up with the inflation.

Fletcher suggested that it is important for city residents to be informed about the revenue discussions and that the city need to know what services the city’s residents are wanting. He told the council members that as costs have gone up, the city has been doing less; fixing fewer sidewalks, sweeping streets less often, not mowing as frequently.

During the public comment period, a Cashmere resident addressed the Council expressing his concern about being notified that his boat in front of his house was in violation of the city’s code. He expressed his concern that the code was not clear and was written in the 1980s and does not make sense for current lifestyles and family situations where many families have multiple cars, an RV and or a boat. He asked that the Council change the code. Fletcher responded that the Council would discuss the situation during a future meeting.

In a Progress Report, Fletcher told the Council that the PUD will be talking with the city about the removal of the spruce trees on Evergreen Drive. Director of Operations, Steve Croci, explained that the trees are endangering personnel, the distribution and powerlines and substation.

EXISTING CITY REVENUE SOURCES 

TAX

2023 Actual Revenue

Description

Voter Approval

“Basic” Sales Tax

$687,8926

Sales tax of 1.0%

NO

Regular Levy on Property

$770,666

Property tax levy

NO, 1%

YES, to exceed 1%

Utility Taxes

$765,408

Tax on local utility providers, gross operating revenues.

NO if 6% or less.

YES more than 6%

REET 1

$44,201

Real Estate Excise Tax up to 0.25% for capital projects.

NO

Cable TV Franchise Fee

$29,132

Fee upon cable TV providers up to 5% of gross revenues within city

NO

City-County Assistance

$6,247

From state to qualifying cities. 

State Shared 

Leasehold Excise Tax

$9,709

Up to 4% on leases of tax-exempt property 

NO

Liquor Excise Tax

$22,997

At least 22.23% must be used on drug & alcohol treatment and public safety 

State Shared

Liquor Profits

$25,078

At least 2% must be used on drug & alcohol treatment.

State Shared

Public Utility Dist. Privilege Tax

$29,954

Tax on PUD properties in lieu of property tax

State Shared

Lodging Tax

$11,427

Tax on short term lodging 

NO

Cannabis Excise Tax

$5,218

 

State Shared

Criminal Justice – Contracted Services

$6,982

To cities that contract for majority of law enforcement services

State Shared

Criminal Justice – Population

$1,186

To all cities based on population

State Shared

Criminal Justice – Special Program

$4,187

For innovative law enforcement and at-risk children

State Shared

OPTIONAL   NEW TAX

TAX

Potential Revenue 

Description

Voter Approval

REET 2 

$44,000

Will Vary

Additional excise tax of 0.25% on real estate sales for capital projects

NO

G.O. Bond Levy

Debt Financing

Capital purposes

YES 60%

EMS Levy

Max $123,621   

Max $0.50 per $1,000 Assessed Value 

YES 60%

Levy Lid lift

Each 1% 

$7,400

To increase property tax revenue by more than 1%, for 1 or more years.

Yes.

Transportation Benefit Dist.

Each 0.1% sales tax 

$70,000 (varies)

Sales Tax up to 0.3% for transportation projects

NO if 0.1% or less.

YES, if exceeds 0.1%

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here