Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor | City made its own spending problem

Posted on April 5th, 2024 By: Jack Kennedy

The City has a spending problem of its own making. That problem is at the root of the City’s complaint that it is experiencing a deficit in its General Fund.

It reports that it is experiencing a 2 million dollar shortfall in its General Fund and proposes to solve this problem by burdening Gig Harbor property owners with a “permanent” property tax levy lid lift and imposing a whopping 57% increase in property taxes beginning in 2025.

This Property Tax Proposition on the ballot for April 23, 2024 should be rejected. It is unfair and inequitable because this taxing measure would fall exclusively on property owners rather than spreading the increased tax burden on all Gig Harbor citizens and users of Gig Harbor businesses through sales taxes or B&0 taxes.

By contrast, the Public Safety Tax, Proposition 1 on the ballot August 6 is a sales tax increase that will be shouldered by all who buy goods and services in Gig Harbor — a much more fair taxing approach. And, in my estimate Gig Harbor Police and Fire do an outstanding job and it is in the public interest that they be fully funded.

But beyond the unfairness of the proposed April 23 Property tax Proposition 1, is, as noted, the problem of the City’s spending of taxpayer dollars. The March 14, 2024 edition of Gig Harbor NOW and Ted Kenney’s post captioned “Gig Harbor plans $2 million roundabout at 56th Street and 38th Avenue” well illustrates the problem but it is by no means the only example. At an intersection currently controlled by fully functioning traffic lights (all of course previously paid for by the tax payers of Gig Harbor) the City proposes to install a roundabout at the intersection that it estimates will cost (coincidentally) at least 2 million dollars and will require by the City’s own estimation “a full summer construction season.”

Judging from the City’s buildout of other “roundabouts” at Stinson and Rosedale and at Stinson and Harborview Drive, very substantial impacts on neighboring businesses, neighboring residents and overall traffic flow are likely to ensue during construction and thereafter and the pressing question is why? Why is the City even considering taking on an expensive multi-million dollar project that does not from a common sense perspective seem necessary or prudent where the current system is working just fine. Putting it more simply – how can the City justify making this kind of an expenditure and how is that a prudent use of tax payer funds?

The City may offer the retort that the planned spending of 2 million and counting for a roundabout at 56th Street and 38th are monies from a fund in the City’s budget separate from the General Fund. Whether that is true or not, is frankly beside the point. Wherever those funds come from in the City’s budget they are tax payer monies and should not be unnecessarily or imprudently spent. Replacing perfectly functioning traffic control signals with an expensive roundabout does not seem necessary or sensible or fiscally responsible but is symptomatic of the City’s self-inflicted spending problem.

Finally, the fact that the City has approved spending $30,000 out of the same deficit running General Fund to hire an advertising firm to persuade Gig Harbor voters to endorse Proposition 1 is itself a further demonstration of how the City approaches the spending of tax payer dollars.

Before asking its tax payers for more funding, I would respectfully suggest the City take a further look at its approach to spending public funds and listen more acutely to the concerns of its citizens.

Jack Kennedy

Gig Harbor

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