Community Government

Gig Harbor Council sends property tax measure to voters

Posted on February 15th, 2024 By:

Gig Harbor residents will decide in April whether to increase their property taxes after the City Council voted Monday to put the issue on a special election ballot.

The ballot measure asks voters inside city limits if they want to increase property taxes from the current rate of just under 70-cents per thousand dollars of property valuation, to $1.10 per thousand.

The vote was 5-2, with council members Jeni Woock and Roger Henderson voting no. Woock and Henderson favored a lower property tax rate coupled with an increase in sales taxes and possible addition of a business and occupation tax.

Potential deficit

The city faces a general fund deficit of about $2 million by 2025. City staff members say the deficit came about in part because property tax revenue has not kept pace with population growth.

Gig Harbor’s population has grown 65% since 2013 – from 7,913 to 13,060 residents – but property tax revenue has only increased by about 8%, according to city figures.

Property tax revenues increased slowly due in part because local governments may increase property taxes by only 1% per year — unless voters agree to lift that lid.

The measure approved by the council on Monday asks voters to lift the lid. The election is April 23.

Some prefer B&O, sales tax increases

If approved by the voters, the property tax would increase by approximately $300 per year for a home valued at $750,000.

Property taxes are one of the city’s three “guaranteed” revenue sources, along with sales taxes and permit or development fees. Property taxes fund daily operations such as public safety and police, street maintenance, parks, the municipal court, and some personnel as well as the city’s General Fund.

Woock suggested that the city consider a smaller property tax increase but also levy a B&O tax on local businesses.

“It would take this burden from 100 percent of our property owners and spread it out over everyone who spends money in Gig Harbor and then everyone who spends money in Gig Harbor would help pay for our roads,” Woock said.

Henderson said his constituents believe the burden should be spread around. He is in favor of assessing a B&O tax and increasing the sales tax.

PR firm hired

The council also approved a $30,000 contract with JayRay, a Tacoma public relations company, to inform city residents about the ballot measure.

The council appointed six city residents to write “for” and “against” statements that will appear in the Voters’ Pamphlet for the election. Council members appointed Julie Martin, Robyn Denson and Kevin Entze to write the “For” statement; and Kevin MacDonald, Marjorie Van Nuis and Melinda Stuart to write the “Against” statement.

Other business

  • The council unanimously approved an update to the city’s Building Code to revise obsolete definitions and passages and make codes consistent with those adopted by the state in 2021.
  • The council unanimously rezoned the Pleasure Craft Marina property on Harborview Drive from Waterfront Residential (WM) to Waterfront Commercial (WC). In addition, the council approved removing several parcels on Shirley Avenue from the city’s height restriction overlay district.

Upcoming meetings

The council meets for a study session at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Civic Center on Grandview Street. Discussion items include a potential agreement with PenMet Parks for recreational programming, a review of the public works department’s capital improvement projects story map, and pavers at Ancich Park. The meeting can also be accessed via zoom.