Council votes no on 1 percent increase

NORTH BEND - The North Bend City Council last week surprisingly voted not to pass a 1 percent increase in property taxes for 2006.

"It was a huge surprise that night," Councilmember Dave Cook said.

Last year, Cook opposed the 1 percent increase because he said he opposes "taxation without justification." He was the only council member to vote against it and read a letter to the council outlining his views at the time. He said he "got raked through the coals" because of that and after this year's proposed increase was voted down, he said, "Sometimes I get my way by just shutting my mouth."

The 1 percent increase would have been the maximum allowed yearly by any city in Washington. By opting not to increase taxes for next year, the city will never be able to make up for that 1 percent.

Mayor Ken Hearing said, "The council chose not to go there, knowing full well that nearly $9,000 that is included in the '06 general fund will not be available now."

The levy would have increased the city's share of property tax money by $8,884 for 2006.

Councilmember Bill Wittress voted against the increase because he "simply couldn't make the numbers pencil out," he said.

Wittress said the increase in assessed value in the city for 2006 will bring in more revenue for the city without raising taxes, "So why, exactly, do we need to raise taxes?"

Cook said that because the tax increase revenue would be so minor, it would also be minor to find a way to cut the city's budget somewhere else to make up the difference.

The only council member to vote in favor of the increase was Chris Garcia.

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