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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Let’s look at facts about levy rates

Guest opinion by TAMMY SCHOFIELD
Bellevue City Councilwoman

First and most important I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supported the special election in Bellevue. Though it did not pass this time, we had the best turnout and the numbers were close: 56 percent yes and 44 percent no. This shows me that the people of Bellevue are becoming more proactive and informed and understand that it takes an investment into our community to ensure a healthy stable city. I hope those who supported this much needed process will continue to support us as we go forward to the November Special Election; and for those who were not able to convince themselves that the increase was necessary, I hope you give us a chance to better inform you and hopefully help you to see that we are acting in good faith and trying to plan for a more healthy future versus going from crisis to crisis, which is unproductive and harmful.

As for the fact that everyone's property values have increased on the average 39 percent, this information was not available to the city prior to having notice of the special election. Even given that fact, the legal verbiage used on the special election allowed for the difference between our existing levy rate, .001342 and .00300; hence the levy rate could have been set lower than .00300, depending on the values, because the direct amount the city was hoping to increase its budget was already determined. Those who have served on prior councils or as mayors for cities, know without a doubt, that as the taxable value goes up, the levy rate goes down. So, based on the facts: 2003-2004 Levy Rate for Bellevue equals .001342. (This number is calculated from a city's budget divided by the city's net taxable value.) Which means, ultimately, the levy rate begins with the budget. Bellevue's Budget for 2003-2004 was around $224,000 (Ketchum's Parks budget is double this) and the net taxable value was $165,000,000. So you divide the taxable value into the budget and get the levy rate. That's the fact.

So ultimately that means for this year, even with everyone receiving their estimated taxes, our budget can still only increase by 3 percent – 3 percent (and that's not a typo); and then you allow for new tax ro1l—let’s say another 3.5 percent—So our budget will go from $224,000.00 to around $237,000.00 (that's the 3 percent at $6,720 and an additional $6,280 for new homes); while our net taxable value for the city goes up to around $217 million. What does that equal? You divide our budget—$237,000 by, now, $217,000,000—and that gives you the new levy rate—fact. For those who do not have a calculator handy, that equals .001090 the new levy rate. Now instead of .001342 or $134.20 for every $100,000, it is .00109 or $109 for every $100,000. Honestly though, what was valued at $100,000 last year is now approximately 39 percent more, hence $139,000 in value—so it means the actual increase is $17.31 a year in taxes. Fact— (speaking for Bellevue City taxes) I look forward to the next few months, again hosting informational seminars, (as we hosted (3) meetings prior to the last election. Maybe some "pizza and politic" gatherings, that everyone will hopefully participate in. This community is ours. We do not promise a better future for each of you individually, that is up to you as much as my personal future is up to me. But the present abilities as well the future of the city of Bellevue collectively is what we are striving for—a better future. The city of Bellevue has a lot to be proud of.

"Quality cities are created by choice—not chance."


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