To Our Elected Commissioners:
It is time for our elected BOCC to consider the needs not only of the low income population of Jefferson County but of the approximately 25,000 parcel owners who elected them.
Foremost: calling the low income housing shortage in our county an “emergency” is an inappropriate exercise of the BoCC’s discretionary authority. I am appalled that the Commissioners would even consider putting the measure to a vote. A problem that has been years in the making due to economic and demographic circumstances, that has not been otherwise addressed by the Board and County action and, by the very proposal, that would take 7 years to even attempt to correct cannot be called an emergency. Also consider this: to label it as an emergency subjects the County, and therefore, the taxpaying citizens to legal challenges for which we will all pay.
Beyond that fundamental problem with the proposal, my purpose is not to dispute the rationale for needing more affordable housing in our county, but to urge the Commissioners to recognize that: 1) the County government has not taken the first steps to alleviate policies, zoning and high development fees that may stand in the way of developing more affordable housing units; 2) the tax paying property owners of Jefferson County are under attack by all government sectors in Washington; 3) instituting another property tax increase only serves to undermine affordable housing, because owners of rental properties will have to pass the additional cost onto renters; 4) by increasing property taxes you are making it harder for the residential property owners of our county, especially those on fixed incomes, to remain in our homes. The Home Opportunity Fund is not the solution.
1) The County Government should first take steps to clear its own development policies, zoning restrictions and fees which stand in the way of developing low income housing.
2) The property tax payers of Jefferson County are under attack by all sectors of Washington government. Consider these new and proposed taxes that have occurred and will continue for years:
School District #50 Bond 2016 20 years - $ 1.178 /$1,000
WA State education budget increase 2018 - 0.91 /$1,000
Proposed Home Opportunity Fund 7 Years - 0.36 /$1,000
$ 2.448 /$1,000
Coupled with the significant increase in home values over the past year, a homeowner in a house valued at $300,000 would be paying approximately $734 in NEW property taxes. A housing shortage years in the making should not fall solely on the shoulders of an already stretched segment of your electorate. If the Commissioners are convinced this is a problem they should look for other solutions, including tax breaks for developers and sales taxes.
3) Instituting another property tax increase only serves to undermine affordable housing, because owners of rental properties will have to pass the additional cost onto renters.
4) By increasing property taxes you are making it harder for the residential property owners of our county, especially those on fixed incomes, to remain in their homes. Have you not noticed that the supporters of the Home Opportunity Fund are all non-profits who pay no taxes?
In summary, it is irresponsible of the Commissioners to approve a resolution to move this proposal to a vote by the citizens of Jefferson County. Furthermore, this is certainly NOT the year to add another levy to our escalating property tax bill when property owners have not even seen the effect of other new taxes and increased property values.
As elected Commissioners, you should do your job for your constituents and say NO to putting this proposal on the November ballot. At present you are just throwing Mr. Morley’s proposal “over the fence” to let the voters decide without thoroughly considering alternatives and the consequences of what such a levy would mean to ALL the citizens of Jefferson County.
31 N Rhododendron Drive
Port Townsend, WA 98368
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