Photo by Jerry Gay
Voters from all over the Highline area came to Burien to deposit their ballots Nov. 6 in the drop box in front of City Hall. Mario Navarro and Noemi Martinez from Tukwila pruodly display their ballots. Margaret Marealle, left, and Beverly Riley are the assistants in the back. The Normandy Park Levy Lid Lift was among the items decided in the election.

Normandy Park’s voters decide to raise their taxes

The threat that Normandy Park will cease to be a city has diminished as voters approved a property tax increase in the Nov. 6 election.

Approval of the measure allows Normandy Park lawmakers to raise the city’s property tax rate to $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed value. The current rate is $1.31. Burien and Des Moines properties are also assessed at $1.60.

As of Nov. 10, King County Elections reported 2,371 yes votes (65.84 percent) and 1,230 no votes (34.16 percent.)

The extra levy rate will raise about $330,000 annually for the next four or five years.

Both the chief supporter and opponent of the measure agreed that the vote showed Normandy Park residents suppoort their city.

“The citizens of Normandy Park are pleased with the services they receive and are willing to pay for them,” Karen Steele, chair of the Pro Committee for Proposition 1, declared.

Councilmember Stacia Jenkins said, “This is a very clear demonstration Normandy Park residents care about their community. I’m happy to see that.”

Jenkins was the only council member to vote against putting the proposition on the ballot because she believed lawmakers should first search for other solutions before asking voters to raise taxes.

“I wanted to wait to ask for more money until we could be more specific what it would be used for,” Jenkins said.

She said former City Manager Doug Schulze was not honest in how he the additional tax revenue would be used. Schulze left in October to become Bainbridge city manager.

Jenkins noted that while Burien and Des Moines residents already pay $1.60 per $1,000, Normandy Park residents must also pay an additional parks district tax and stormwater utility tax.

Steele said many of the programs approved by the council have been funded by outside grants and will generate future revenue for the city.

Steele, former chair of the 33rd District Republicans, agrees that her party generally is opposed to tax increases.

But she argued that without a tax increase, the city would have had to be annexed to another city with already higher taxes.

“It is logical to pay it to your city instead of another city,’ Steele declared.

Steele warns the property tax increase is “one piece of the puzzle.” She said the city must continue to look at ways to increase economic development.

She pointed to the Manhattan Village plan along First Avenue South. She said when the economy improves, she expects developers will submit their plans for the area.

For Jenkins, Normandy Park’s next steps include developing long-term strategies, stopping spending reserve funds, rebuilding the reserves and “spending money more conservatively.”

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