Snoqualmie council to weigh operations levy for cops, firefighters, parks
July 16, 2012 · 9:34 AM
The Snoqualmie City Council will decide next week whether to send a 24-cent operations levy, supporting police, fire, parks and streets, to city voters this fall.
The measure would add paid positions to the city’s police and fire departments, which have been in a hiring freeze for nine years, while helping preserve basic maintenance of streets, parks, and trails within the city to avoid more costly improvements in the future.
City officials say the property tax increase is necessary to maintain basic service because the city’s costs have risen faster than revenues, particularly property tax revenues, which are capped by initiative.
“We started with belt-tightening, but it alone is not a long-term solution,” said Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. “As a community, we face important choices about whether to maintain the same high quality of fire and police protection. We need to keep up with infrastructure improvements rather than waiting and paying more later. We need to maintain safe parks and recreation facilities, and preserve natural areas so they are here for us to enjoy for years to come.”
Larson said the city has done its share of cost-cutting, including a hiring freeze, elimination of cost-of-living increases for management, savings in health and insurance costs, and cutting replacement equipment for the fire, public works, and parks departments, among other spending reductions.
The levy plan had its genesis last January, when the city council reviewed a variety of funding options to address the long-term funding shortfall to maintain basic city services including public safety, streets, and parks and recreation.
In March, the city hired EMC Research and Northwest Public Affairs to conduct a telephone survey of residents, gauging support for a levy.
Residents were asked about their priorities, their satisfaction with city services, the quality and level of basic city services, and their satisfaction with how the city is managing and providing those services.
According to survey results, 56 percent of respondents would support a levy for public safety and maintenance of streets, parks and trails..
An ordinance introducing the measure was introduced to the council on July 9. The council will vote on the ordinance at the July 23 council meeting. Pending council approval, the ballot title will be filed with King County to be included on the November general election ballot.