We attended the recent meeting in which Poulsbo port commissioners presented their case for why voters should allow them to dramatically expand the current district’s boundaries, raising taxes on hundreds of property owners. In our opinion, the current port commissioners did not present a clear case for why those who live outside the current port district would benefit from annexation. They did not document, in any detailed way, exactly why they need additional tax revenue or exactly what they would do with the revenue. They mentioned a number of projects such as expanding the docks or even helping to develop a hotel in Poulsbo but had no detailed specific plans. I believe their argument was, basically, that if they had more money they would be able to do something good with it and we should take their word on that. They might as well have said, “We have to pass the annexation before we know the benefits of the annexation.”
When we asked why people like us, who live in the county, would want to be annexed, the commissioners relied on vague arguments, saying for example, that it was a matter of fairness or community spirit. When we asked why it was fair for people who live, in many cases, miles from the port, to pay for expenses designed to benefit primarily people who work or live near the port, one of the commissioners said we would benefit by not having to pay as much tax to the city of Poulsbo. We said we didn’t live in Poulsbo and didn’t pay Poulsbo tax so his argument made no sense. He did not have any response.
We think it’s important to point out that the postcard the commissioners sent out, saying that the average tax increase for annexed property would be about $75/year, is misleading. The additional tax rate property owners will pay is 30 cents for each $1000 of assessed valuation. So the additional tax the commissioners cited would be on a home valued at $250,000. We’re not sure where those houses are but it’s clear they are not on Liberty Bay. In fact, we’re sure the average value of homes that are at all near the shoreline is probably twice the value presented by the commissioners. For those properties the additional tax will be $150/year, or more. The commissioners know this is not a trivial increase which is why they presented the lower figure.
We are not against paying for governmental activities that have some clear benefit but we believe it is the duty of elected officials to document what benefits their work provides and what benefits will come from any additional taxation. In our opinion, the Poulsbo port commissioners have not done that.
Carl and Janet Shipley