1. Spending beyond the adopted budget
Each year Cities and County must adopt balanced budgets. However, once they do, they always bust through their budgets as early as a month after they promise the taxpayers they could run their jurisdictions for the budget they just adopted. Such is the case in Kirkland where the City found new money by the 4th month of this Year, a $20 million dollar surplus they're about to spend on something other than helping citizens to pay for essential safety equipment while staying on budget. For those elected officials who preach they care about safety first is a bunch of bull. What they do amounts to hypocrisy that causes us to pay higher and unnecessary taxes.
2. Regional funding takes a lot of money out of Kirkland, money that the City could used to benefit its citizens.
The City fund gives $1 million dollars to the County’s Flood Control Program mostly benefiting Kent with 6 or 7 pumps pumping ground water on a 24/7 cycle. Of that million, we only get back $10,000 back to help pay for our surface water program. It’s not enough.
We paid and are paying millions of dollars into the RTA (METRO). Most voted for it under the guise that Kirkland was included into the original funding. Instead, almost all of our allocation went into Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond with little going to benefit Kirkland. Everett and Federal Way also were scammed especially if we're talking rail. Kirkland gets nothing but busses.
As part of Mass Transit improvements, Kirkland and other eastside cities did get busses. The busses unload 45 to 60 passengers every 15 to 20 minutes, passengers who then get into their cars that create traffic jams with no money or intent to fix the problem. The Council was required to adopt local transportation plans that support Mass Transit. They have not done it and as a result, we have more and longer traffic jams. We're in the same boat.
The RTA proponents had to increase their tax base because there were not enough local tax dollars to get it passed: too expensive. So they promised Everett and Federal Way they would be included in the initial funding. Not true but it caused those jurisdictions to help pay for the RTA without the benefits they were promised.
Expanding the tax base is common. Existing citizens in their Jurisdictions end up paying for additional services they do not benefit from. It happens too many times not only in the County and Cities but also becomes a temptation for some school, hospital, and utility districts.
Broadening the tax base when there are not enough votes locally to pass is more likely when it would be too expensive for citizens. How else then can the proponents find the money if they don't include cities with high property values? Citizens in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Everett, and Federal Way are needed in order to justify additional expenditures. As it stands now, more money and deception are needed to pass legislation that should have been included in the original ballot measure. More money is still needed. It will end up being paid for out of regional funding. How much comes out of Kirkland? What do we get for our money? Cities with high property become nothing more than a financial resource to make up the shortfall. Where’s the nexus?
Using the RTA as an example, we will likely get false, incomplete, and untrustworthy statements. Who knows, it may even become our next ballot measure.
3. Picking priorties that determine who gets to vote.
Council creates artificial budget short falls in order to place issues on the ballot. A key culprit in raising taxes.
I distinctly remember a Mayor who wanted money for her cause. She moved money from the Fire Department’s budget that would have paid for a new ladder truck they wanted. It created an artificial budget shortfall. The money was there in the budget for the Fire Department. That didn't stop the Mayor from moving the money to her special interest. Money was then diverted to pay for non-essential services catering to her and other Councilmembers special interest. Existing Mayor and Councilmembers will do it again. They've already done it this year. The results: higher taxes for us without a vote.
I distinctly remember the Council passing laws that prohibit the existing Kirkland citizens from voting on annexation. The Council knew it probably would not pass so they administratively prevented them a vote.
I remember the Council passing laws prohibiting the public from commenting on the concurrency requirements. As a result, we have more and longer traffic jams that are going to take money and intent.
I remember the Council passing laws that prevented the public from commenting at a public hearing on the rezoning which was done to unite the land use map with zoning map. Instead, an administrative process recommended by the Planning Director was used for massive rezoning thereby denying the public from having a chance to voice their opinion on rezoning as was not done for the Portala Property.
The Council only puts items on the ballot that they think will pass. They have a pecking priority that almost always guarantees higher taxes. It allows them to use money for their special interest instead of paying for essential services.
4. Property taxes
Property taxes revenues pay for a lot of services. So, when proponents want issues passed, they propose that property taxes pay for them usually with other people’s money. There is disparity between the nexus of who pays and who benefits.
Affordable housing properties do not pay property taxes as some Councilmembers would like us to believe; however, recipients receive benefits. That’s not a way to run government.
As an example, Miami/Dade County in Florida a few years ago was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy because even in a rich community, the money wasn't there. Between un-financed mandates and too much affordable housing Miami/Dade County failed to manage their budgets. The same goes for Stockton, CA, San Bernardino, CA. and other cities. Orange County, CA also had bankruptcy problems but managed to survive because their businesses flourished without government. Citizens and businesses paid for the services they needed. They saved money in the process without increasing taxes. They're now back to California budgeting.
Other jurisdictions need to do the same if they want to continue to exist. Instead of more affordable housing, cities needs more people who can afford to live in those respective cities without someone else footing the bill. Without seeing the housing recipient’s budget, I suspect that much of housing subsidy is being spent on Internet, DVD’s, flat screen TV’s, cable or dish, and smart phone along with their applications, caller ID, better cars, maybe even sports equipment. Maybe a subsidy is not warranted. Housing subsidies should be used for housing. It wasn't intended to fund watching TV or playing games.
5. Tax rates increasing faster than the Cost of Living
The city has been disrespectful of the needs for senior citizens. Most are on fixed income. Senior citizen or not, taxes reduce the quality of life for many people. The rate of tax and fee increases has grown at a rate 4 times faster than our Cost of Living compensation. It makes it difficult for us to balance our budgets without getting deeper in debt and or reducing our quality of life.
6. Jurisdictions send representatives to lobby for more taxes
This is gross. Most jurisdictions send paid employees with our tax dollars who are sent to Olympia and other organizations to lobby for more money. Their request is not for reducing taxes but for higher taxes so that their governments, districts, and jurisdictions can thrive at the expense of taxpaying citizens. Their time and money costs us a bunch.
7. Fund raisers for special interest
The power of the people cannot be ignored. Mass methods associated with croudfunding are used to accumulate funds. Instead of contributing money from their own resources, they gather money from other people to pay for it. If successful, taxes will go up. Other taxpayers will then likely become bilked by special interest including governments that thrive on raise fees and taxes. It happens.
8. Salary surveys
When our current City Manager was hired, his salary was much greater than any other manager in the entire state of Washington, even more than the manager of Bellevue, a much larger city with more employees. As soon as that happened, other managers with the help of the ICMA (International City Managers Association), PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council) and self serving staff and elected officials demanded and got a salary survey. Managers got more money not because their duty changed or responsibilities increased but because some other manager was making more money. In fact, more employees were hired to reduce their workload and responsibilities making the additional cost for added responsibilities unwarranted. The increases then trickled down to other staff department directors and employees whose duties were no more than what they were doing before the surveys. Taxpayers had no voice had to pay more and subsequently had to bite the bullet as expenses grew.
Robert L. Style