Cityof Blaine looks at initiative 864

Published on Thu, May 13, 2004 by rent Cole

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City of Blaine looks at initiative 864

By Brent Cole

Uncertainty is in the air as the city of Blaine begins to grapple with the possibility that Initiative 864 could end up on this fall’s ballot and become law.

The initiative would “reduce the regular property tax levy for each local taxing district (county, city, town, or any special purpose district with authority to impose a regular property tax) by 25 percent of the levy amount that would otherwise be allowed under existing law. The reduction would be effective for taxes levied for collection in 2005. This reduction would not apply to voter-approved levies, such as school or emergency medical levies, or authorized levy-lid lifts” according to the initiative summary on the Washington Secretary of State website.

Essentially, the initiative would roll back some, but not all, local property tax levies by 25 percent. Currently initiative organizers are trying to get the required 197,734 registered voter signatures statewide by the July 2 deadline.

What the initiative means to the city of Blaine isn’t clear at the moment, though officials are looking into the potential problems.
At the May 10 city council meeting, Meredith Riley, Blaine’s finance director stated that according to the Department of Revenue, Blaine would not be affected by the initiative. Blaine has a voter approved levy lift lid which requires the city to obtain voter approval to exceed the 101 percent levy limit and levies with this provision are excluded.
However, Riley pointed out this is the state’s interpretation of the initiative and Blaine therefore needs to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Riley stated that the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) is suggesting all cities do two budgets for the upcoming year, one in case the initiative passes and one in case it doesn’t to give council an idea of the initiative’s potential impact,

Riley pointed out that had the initiative been in effect last year, the city would have had to cut $187,000 from its general fund.