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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Voters! Pro and Con Again on Prop #1

To all of us "thoughtful"  voters, who miss voting at the polls -

Last minute Pro and Con on Shoreline's Prop 1.

These opinions were first printed in the Shoreline Area News.
Pro - 
from Will Hall Deputy Mayor

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As someone who cares about Shoreline, your decision on Proposition 1 is important. If approved, the city can maintain our parks, police, and community services. If not, there will be major, permanent cuts in services that we need to keep Shoreline a great place to live. I'd like to share why I'm asking you to join me in voting "Yes" on Shoreline Proposition 1.

Our community formed the City of Shoreline 15 years ago to preserve our great schools and to get better services than we got from King County. We've done that. Crime is down. Flooding is down. Our parks are better. We have miles of new sidewalks and the Interurban Trail. We have a vibrant senior center and great programs for youth. The list goes on and on. Please vote Yes on Proposition 1 to protect these important improvements.

In the past ten years (since Tim Eyman's initiatives), the city's property tax levy increased 9% while inflation increased 27%. In real dollars, that means we are giving the city 18% less property tax than we did in 2000! The city has done an amazing job of cutting costs by over $2 million to make ends meet. The city cut employee health benefits, eliminated cost-of-living adjustments for two years, slashed travel budgets, reduced staff, and made dozens of other cuts in administrative expenses. And still, Shoreline is one of the best places to live in the region. That's an incredible value, and a tribute to the fiscally conservative work of city leadership.

As a result, the City of Shoreline is one of the most efficient cities in the state, with 25% fewer employees than comparable cities, employee salaries below comparable cities, and one of the lowest city property tax rates in the region. There simply is no more waste or excess to cut in the city budget without eliminating entire programs.

Without Proposition 1, the city will have to make $14 million in cuts to the services that make this a great, and safe, place to live. If we want to preserve what makes our city special, we need to vote "Yes" on Proposition 1.

I know the economy is in terrible shape right now. Many of my neighbors are unemployed, living on fixed income, or hurting financially. I've had my pay reduced two years in a row. My wife hasn't seen a raise in years. I don't like paying taxes any more than the next person. But I don't want to turn my back on people who depend on city services during these difficult times.

What do you like best about living in Shoreline? People tell me they want to live in a safe community with clean streets, free parks for kids to play, and city staff that work to protect our neighborhoods. For an average of $7.60 per household per month, we can preserve those things and still have a great city for a bargain price.

If you have questions, please let me know. You can also learn more from thecity's website.  Thank you for caring about our community and this important choice.  

Please vote "Yes" on Shoreline Proposition 1.

From Arthur Peach -
Arthur Peach is the Chair of the No on Prop 1 Committee

We need fundamental financial reform in Shoreline. Proposition 1 raises taxes, but makes only gesture, not a real promise, toward maintaining the services. It would allow the City to use the additional revenue any way it sees fit. The City of Redmond faced a shortfall similar to ours several years ago and addressed it with a fundamental reformation of the way it constructed its budget. According to Redmond Mayor Marchione the result has been a 9% decrease in expenses while maintaining all services (SEATTLE TIMES, OCTOBER 5). If Redmond can cut expenses and keep services, Shoreline can too!

Raising property taxes will create a greater problem for our City; more businesses will leave, more homes will go up for sale or worse, go into foreclosure. Shoreline already pays the highest cumulative property tax rate in King County. Proponents of Proposition 1 argue that Shoreline only receives about $0.10 on the dollar, but do not take into account the issues that arise with the effects of cumulative taxes on the citizens. The City needs to adjust to the reality that we are all facing - we have to do more with less.

Retaining services during an economic downturn is always difficult. What few people know is that each year for the last 10 years the City has transferred on average $1.4 million from the Operating Budget to the Capital Improvement Projects. The City needs to correct the structural gap between expenses and revenues. The City has not reevaluated employee health care plans since 2003. We could save money and protect health care coverage at the same level by reevaluating. We could develop a larger retail sales tax base, creating incentives to keep existing businesses and recruit new ones, instead of driving them out. We could move the police department to City Hall. We need solutions, not a tax that leaves a structural problem for future Shoreline residents.

We can see the City through this crisis without raising taxes.

Vote No on Proposition 1.

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