Dunn and Lambert introduce tax neutral plan for Criminal Justice funding

Property tax reductions save Flood District from elimination

Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert today introduced a plan to fully fund criminal justice with a two-tenths of one percent sales tax. The plan offsets the sales tax with reductions in the Parks Expansion Levy, the Unincorporated Levy, the Flood Control District and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) Levy. By cutting these sources, the plan is tax neutral for the average taxpayer, gets property taxes below the state imposed assessed valuation cap, saving partial funding of the King County Flood Control District.

“This plan honors taxpayers by not asking them for more taxes during this severe economic downturn.  It also prioritizes our cops and courts by cutting back on things that are lower priorities at this time,” said Dunn, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee.  “This plan saves partial funding for the King County Flood District at a time when we are struggling with the effects of the Howard Hanson Dam.”

Last week, it came to the attention of the County Council that the combined local tax levies, including an eight cents per thousand increase from the King County Library District, would exceed the statutory state cap of $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.

State law directs county officials to get taxes back under the limit by reducing or eliminating levies of lower-ranked junior taxing districts — such as park, flood, recreation, hospital and cemetery districts. With no action, the King County Flood Control District would be eliminated because if taxes exceed the cap anywhere in the county, the flood district's tax rate could be rolled back countywide.

“Citizens who are dealing with reduced salaries and job losses want their government to make cuts and reprioritize expenditures.  These choices are hard just like the cuts families make every day,” said Councilmember Lambert. “We need to reprioritize and work together to get through this difficult financial recession.  This plan prioritizes our criminal justice system to keep our communities safe as our first priority.”

The proposed plan will result in a tax cut of eight dollars for the average household in 2011 and an increase of six dollars per year after that.  With a three-year sunset, the total cost for the average household will be four dollars through 2013.