Prop 1 Letter to the Editor from Nigel Keiffer
Open Letter to the Mayor, City Council and Tax Payers of Lake Forest Park
Subject: Proposition 1 – A permanent perpetual property tax increase providing a slush fund for parks together with unrelated miscellaneous sidewalks, pedestrian/cyclist connections and “traffic calming” throughout the City.
A Little Historical Context
For almost twenty-one years the City’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board in collaboration with the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation have promoted the “Green Agenda” and sought tax payer funding for parks and open space. In the previous Proposition 1 (Nov. 7, 2000), the City passed resolution 601 to issue Park and Open Space general obligation bonds ($3,500,000) to fund the acquisition, development and preservation of parks and open-space. They also proposed to levy annual excess property taxes to pay and retire the bonds. Sound familiar? That Proposition 1 measure failed, as this one should for the same reasons.
Even though the bond measure failed the City found other taxpayer funds (federal, state and county) to acquire the real estate (improved and unimproved) gratifying the proponents including the Stewardship Foundation which for a number of years has “volunteered” work parties as needed on the City properties.
Subsequently the City continued to spend and plan to spend more, for example:
In 2008 the City completed the Legacy 100-Year Vision Report. All 91 pages were the product of a consultant team and a Legacy Task-force of 15 “visionaries”. Refer,“The Green Infrastructure Festival”.
Then there was the 2015-2016 Service and Policy Growth Initiative.
Then there was the 2016-2020 City Strategic Plan.
July 2017 Engineering Consultant’s Fehr & Peers Report
Then there was the 2018 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) plan which noted among its’ goals, “...to outline a capital improvement plan identifying future improvements and acquisitions.” To date, there still is no detailed capitol improvement plan.
On July 22, 2021 the City passed Resolution 1810 authorizing Proposition 1to the voters in November. Proponents want to plan, borrow and spend using a perpetual property tax increase of $2 million annually to pay for their folly. I submit that the City has wasted enough tax dollars on planning alone.
Some of the Issues
The July 22, 2021 virtual Council meeting was a joke. Only 5 citizens spoke (3 on Prop 1 topic). The citizen comments lasted 13 minutes. There was no public hearing. Talk about being railroaded!
Insufficient notice to the public for a Council meeting on such a matter of broad public concern, i.e. raising property taxes. The timing of this action is problematic. This fast track process appears to be in violation of the States Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) RCW42.30.
Proposition 1 increases the property tax levy rate $0.59321 per $1000 of assessed value, an increase of 60.7%. to generate perpetually $2 million annually. But beware the Council knows that amount will not be enough for their unpublished long term agenda, refer the July 22, 2021 meeting minutes.
Proposition 1 violates Wash. Supreme Ct.’s “single subject rule” and is unconstitutional, null and void.
Proposition 1 is vague, not forthright. To date, there is no Levy Implementation Plan.