Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor | Sales tax proposal will allow full staffing for police department

Posted on February 28th, 2024 By: Edward Nadler

By now, all property owners within the City of Gig Harbor should be aware that on February 12, council adopted Resolution 1305 placing a Proposition to increase our property taxes on the upcoming April 23 special ballot. We are told an increase in revenue is needed to cover a $2 million shortfall in the General Fund.  This shortfall will impact among city services such as, police and public safety, parks and recreation, street maintenance, community activities, support for small business, and preserve our city’s charm, natural beauty and historic heritage.

For those concerned about public safety, take heart.  At the February 26 council meeting, Council approved Resolution 1307 providing for a Proposition to increase the sales and use tax in Gig Harbor by one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) to maintain and enhance funding for police services and community safety to be placed on the August 6 primary ballot.  This sales tax increase is estimated to generate $1 million in revenue for the city.

As implied by its name the proposed increase in sales tax will go toward funding public safety services.  Per state law, one-third of this sales tax revenue must be used solely for criminal justice purposes, fire protection purposes, or both.  During the February 26 meeting staff listed additional public safety services that would be funded by the other two-thirds.  As Mayor Markley has stated, the sales tax increase will “allow us to fully staff the police department.”  So regardless of what happens with the April 23 vote on property taxes, the additional police officers that had been budgeted for 2023/2024 will eventually be hired, ensuring continued service to the public.

Given that our sales tax is among the lowest in the state, this increase makes a lot of sense, especially as it will guarantee our police and public safety services.

While I am no fan of higher taxes, especially those levied on homeowners, I will admit there are some well balanced and fair taxes we should consider.  Specifically, the city should already have approved the Cultural Access Program Sales Tax.  This is a one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) sales tax that benefits or expands access to nonprofit cultural organizations.  These are the organizations which preserve our city’s charm, natural beauty, and historic heritage.  Services that we are told may be at risk due to the forecasted shortfall.

Sales and use taxes are a balanced and fair source of revenue for our city.  While it is true that citizens of the city will pay any increase in sales tax, so too will all those who visit our city. I for one support Resolution 1307, the Public Safety Sales Tax.  I hope the Council will continue to evaluate options that will not place an increased burden solely on homeowners here in Gig Harbor.

Edward Nadler

Gig Harbor

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