Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bellevue citizens reject levy hike

Special election held to boost municipal capabilities

Express Staff Writer

Bellevue citizens refused Tuesday, May 24, in a special election to support an increase in the city's levy rate.

A majority of voters opposed a proposal to increase the city's fiscal budget by $300,000 to help fund municipal services—such as the police, fire and street departments—by increasing the city's property tax rate.

The city needed 60 percent voter approval for the measure to pass.

The final vote was 121, or 37 percent in favor, to 207, or 63 percent of voters, against the levy increase. The final count recorded 328 ballots cast of the city's 994 registered voters.

If the levy had been approved, the proposed levy would have increased the yearly tax bill of a $100,000 property owner from $99.35 to $179.50.

Ironically, the election was held in response to citizen consensus expressed at a community forum in March. Residents signaled support after concerns arose about consolidating and contracting city services. But that support failed to materialize at the polls Tuesday.

Bellevue currently operates with an approximately $238,000 general fund budget. The total city budget is approximately $853,000.

The election reflected the council's ongoing struggle to provide financial support of city services. This year, the cash-strapped City Council was forced to balance the budget by cutting street and administrative funds and drawing from savings to hire a full-time fire chief. Last year, a similar measure failed to pass by 4 percentage points.

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