According to tax-rates.org, Jefferson County, WA already has one of the highest tax rates in the United States. They ranked our county 270th of the 3,143 counties as a percentage of the median income. We already pay almost 4% of our income on property taxes.
Still, our county commissioners are proposing a $0.36/per thousand increase, but what is more disturbing to me is the proposal has no plan to define what benefits the tax-payers will see. I find this an insult to the tax-payers. They appear to think we would allow someone to spend our money without a plan, that is, to write a blank check.
If one of my engineers or program managers had ever come to me and asked me to approach such an expenditure I would have laughed them out of my office.
The proposal is to provide low-income housing. Port Townsend and Jefferson County is supposedly the city and county with the second highest median age in the entire state. So, is the housing for seniors or for our youth? If for seniors: are they proposing more assisted living facilities managed by a business which will want to make a profit? So the seniors are paying for the facility? With what income? Government taxes? If for young people: they need an income. Or are they expecting us the tax-payers to pay their rent as well?
However, the real issue from my limited perspective is you are addressing a symptom, the the real issues. We don't as a county or state provide adequate training to our younger generations to enable them to earn a livable income. Where are the technical training programs? By that, I mean the training for plumbers, mechanical drafts people, machinists, welders, electricians or electronic technicians. We as a county don't appear to want to create an attractive environment for businesses.
When a company begins looking for a place establish a new location to produce a product it looks for infrastructure. That includes adequate roads, local securities, utilities and training programs. It also looks for an encouraging local culture and economic climate. That is what the Chinese have been doing for the past 35 years. In the 1980's, those who were in production operations could easily see the writing on the wall. The Chinese told us their future goal was to have 80% of global production done in their country.
The Chinese have built roads, dams for electricity and buildings as well as starting new training programs to provide a trained work force for future businesses. They knew if they didn't produce products that could be sold on the world market they could never have an economically viable nation. We in the USA have forgotten that lesson. Producing real tangible products is the fundamental basis of any real economy. Services are necessary, but if we can't sell a tangible product we don't really have an economy.
If we want to have a livable wage environment for our youth we have to make that same type of decision. We need to attract businesses that provide viable incomes for our future generations. I am not attempting to define what that looks like, but there are businesses that have viable products that could be attracted to our community given an attractive culture and economic climate.
Providing low-income housing may be at best a 'band-aid' fix, but it doesn't in my opinion address the real issues. Not everyone can be a computer programmer or engineer. We need to empower our youth to be more productive members of society. They need help in finding a way to earn a livable income. That is our job as elders of the community.
The state legislature has just approved a $0.81 increase to pay for schools in our state. As much as I don't want to pay more taxes, that makes sense to me. We need our children to have a good education to have a viable country. We need to pay our teachers a livable income so they will provide a good education to the students. We need to provide proper facilities for education programs.
If they want to increase my property taxes, then they need to show me a plan that is something more than providing low-income housing. The only ones who really benefit from that are the property owners - they get an income stream that provides them a future capital gains at my expense.
If they increase taxes, I guarantee you that rental property owners will increase the rents to compensate. Is that what you really want? How do I know? I know because we used to be landlords and have seen the process up close. What is proposed is not, in my opinion, a good long-term solution for the community.
Port Townsend, WA
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