State election results could decide if Issaquah increases property taxes

City Council members were sitting on the edge of their seats Tuesday night with some ballot measures having direct impact on the city’s revenue.

In two weeks the council will vote on whether or not to not to increase property taxes by 1 percent, the highest they’re legally allowed in any one year.

For many of the members, the decision hinges on how much money the city will lose next year, for others raising taxes simply isn’t an option in this economy.

The largest ticket items were I-1100 and I-1105, which would privatize state liquor. If passed, the city would lose about $330,000 in revenue, said Jim Blake, the city’s financial director.

“It looks like both of those initiatives failed,” said council member Fred Butler.

As of Wednesday, I-1100, which had the greatest chance of passing, only had 48 percent of approval from voters.

The picture was different at Monday’s council meeting.

Several counselors were concerned that the initiatives would pass, Butler said.

Not knowing the outcome of the election, four of the seven members agreed to move the tax increase forward for a Nov. 15 deadline.

Although I-1100 now isn’t expected to pass, there is a chance the council will still approve the tax hike.

“Nobody likes asking citizens to increase taxes,” said council member John Traeger, who first motioned for the tax amendment.

However, the budget has already been reduced to basic services. There is no where else to cut, he said.

Some disagreed.

“I think if we really needed to find the money, we could re-prioritize,” said council member Mark Mullet.

The people are speaking with the polls, they don’t want anymore taxes, added Eileen Barber.

Mayor Ava Frisinger also discouraged a tax increase.

The citizens are still hurting, even if the 1 percent hike is a modest amount of money, Butler said. He’s undecided and will discuss having a less than 1 percent hike.

A King County measure to increase sales taxes would have given cities 40 percent of the proceeds, but as of Wednesday it was failing with 44 percent of the vote.