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Liberty Road attended the Whatcom County Council's, December 6, 2022, evening Council Meeting via Zoom. The reason for attending this meeting was to hear what the attending audience said during public comments on Agenda Item: Ordinance AB2022-688, the newly approved property tax levy known as 'Prop 5.' During the public comment period it was very obvious that the 'Pro' Prop 5 comments were demanding that the Council give final approval and placement on to the Whatcom County Property Taxes as a 'rate-based' tax levy vs the regular order of a 'budget-based' tax levy.

Before I go on with this article it is important that the reader understand the difference between a rate based levy vs a budget based levy.

Rate-based levy: a proposed rate to be levied upon the value of property. Example: $0.19 levy assessed per $1000.00 value of property. All properties are now taxed at the rate of $0.19/$1000.00 of their total market value. A property valued at $800,000.00 = $182 tax levy assessed. The overlay value of all properties affected in 2021 showed a need to tax at a rate of $0.19 per $1000.00 to acquire the goal of $8,200,000.00 per annum for 10 years. When the same properties increased in value by approximately 20 - 25%, that same property will be taxed at the rate of $0.19 per $1000.00 with the increased valuation at 20 - 25% and the Childcare Fund will receive more taxed funds to deposit in the fund; an additional $1,640,000 to $2,050,000 per annum in 2023. The same holds true if the affected properties market value decreases, the Prop 5 Children's Fund levy will be shorted each year until those property values rise.

Budget-based levy: a proposed budget is overlayed upon the entirety of all affected properties to be taxed and an approximate rate is assessed per $1000.00 value of each properties value. Example: $82,000,000.00 ten-year budget is overlayed and this budget is then divided among the total property valuation of all properties within the special levy. In 2021 this total valuation showed that $0.19 per $1000.00 of property value was needed to acquire the revenue budget of $8,200,000.00 per year for 10 years. But, due to an approximate 20 - 25% increase in property valuations the Prop 5 Special Levy will still only tax each property for the budget amount of $8,200,000.00/per annum for 10 years.

Whatcom County and Washington State property taxes are normally budget-based because this form of taxation gives stable funding to the County to be distributed and payout expenses that support the intent of the voter approved tax. Rate-based taxation is subject to swings, and sometimes wild swings, when property values increase or decrease greatly dependent upon the economy and demand.

It is clearly stated in Ordinance AB2022 - 688 that the intent of the ordinance was to levy a tax to raise a budgeted amount of $8,200,000.00 per annum for 10 years.


(A)The property taxes for Whatcom County are hereby levied and are to be charged to the assessment and tax rolls of Whatcom County; and,

(B) Property taxes are levied in 2022 for collection in 2023; and,

(C) The County general levy for the 2023 tax year shall be increased $321,752 for general government purposes which is a percentage increase of 1% from the previous year, and in addition the general levy shall be further increased $8,200,000 for the purpose of funding for childcare, early learning programs and increased support for vulnerable children. In total the General Fund levy shall be increased $8,521,752, which is a 26.5% increase from the previous year. This levy increase is exclusive of additional revenue resulting from new construction and improvements to property and any increase in the value of state assessed property; and,

After 2+ hours of public testimony, the Whatcom County Council approved the use of the 'rate-based tax levy method.' This approval was achieved by a four-to-two vote. Voting yes for a rate-based tax were Councilmembers Buchanan, Frazey, Donovan, and Galloway. Voting no on this change were Councilmembers Elenbaas and Byrd; Councilmember Kershner was absent from last evening's meeting.

Was it the potential to have an additional $2,000,000.00 taken from the pockets of Whatcom County taxpayers, that drove the green-eyes of greed of the 'Pro - Prop 5' supporters, to push the Council to approve this new, voter approved special property tax levy, as rate-based vs budget-based?

Was it the threat of a lawsuit to be filed against Whatcom County if they didn't approve the new Prop 5/Childcare levy at the estimated $0.19 per $1000.00 valuation, that caused councilmembers Buchanan, Frazey, Donovan, and Galloway, to approve it as a rate-based tax vs the regular order of a stable, budget-based levy?

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Who knows? But what we do know is that the voters were duped, and the greed of the supporters was on full display for all to see at last evenings Whatcom County Council meeting. With dropping property values, the property owners will be paying at a rate that is overstated, because property values in Whatcom County have been dropping rapidly.

We do know that struggling families will need to work more hours away from their family and friends to earn the money to pay the increased property tax. We know that struggling businesses will need to increase revenues by increasing their hours of operation, at a time when they are all already struggling to be fully staffed with employees to fully operate their business. Or these same struggling businesses will need to increase the prices of their products/services to make up the difference in increased annual expense.

This was an initiative that only passed by 20 votes on the final day of counting...almost 3 weeks after Election Day...done with the questionable practice of 'vote curing.' The proposed use for these funds do not have an expenditure plan; only ideas to be volleyed about by the interested parties who will benefit from the millions of dollars taken from moms, dads, families, and businesses, with no accountability of how these funds wiil be spent. What we do know is that the children of Whatcom County will spend more time in large, institutional childcare organizations and businesses, and less time with their families, who will need to work more hours to pay for all the things that they already struggle to pay for.

~ Kris Halterman