LETTER: Burien Not Interested in Sharing Correct Information About Annexation
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our sister site The B-Town Blog posted this Letter to the Editor, which we thought was relevant enough to re-post here:
The Burien City Staff is not really interested in getting correct and factual information about annexation to the public. This lack of effort on their part has contributed to the confusion on the issue of annexation. Citizens and voters can’t get a sense of what is truth and what appears to fabricated fiction about annexation.
I read on the City of Burien website this statement about what kind of taxes citizens in North Highline/White Center/Area Y should expect with annexation:
“The property tax rate will decrease from $14.07 to $13.74 per $1,000 assessed value beginning the second year of annexation. For property with an assessed value of $200,000, this would result in a reduction of $65. The City levies a 3% utility tax on electric and a 6% utility tax on cable, gas, garbage and telephone utilities. Seattle City Light customers in Burien also pay a special fee for undergrounding of utilities along 1st Ave. S. Based upon usage, the total increase in utility taxes and fees would be $205 per year for the average household.
The combined overall change in property and utility taxes for the average household would be an increase of about $140 per year.”
I and some of my neighbors read this statement over and we started to question how these figures related to our real life taxes and bills as current citizens of Burien. The figures just didn’t seem to add up. So I made a request to the City of Burien and asked to see the figures for fees and utility taxes that the city plugged into the math problem to come up with the $140 total.
After two requests to the City, I was told that I could not have their figures because it was not an official record. So no one at City Hall is willing to explain how they got that total or someone at City Hall just made the $140 number up. Frankly that kind of response from the City does not cause me to trust their math or anything they have to say about annexation.
Also, citizens and Council Members have asked the City to show the math on how the Sales Tax Credits will work and the City Staff and City Manager have refused to make that information available. It’s tough to trust a guy who won’t show you the math problem and how it works.
So if citizens and writers to this blog at times appear to be frustrated and angry over this issue of annexation, I believe that their anger and frustration are fueled from the City Staff’s unwillingness to be completely honest about how much revenue can be gotten and how much annexation will really cost to the citizens of both areas.
Citizens should ask the tough questions at these annexation meetings. The next one is Aug. 23, 2012 (details here). An honest and transparent city government should be willing to give the answers and not hide behind evasive statements about why they don’t need to answer a fair question.
– Linda Plein
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