Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Pullman voters have chance to narrow bond focus"

Michelle Dupler did an EXCELLENT job in today's Daily News bringing our more projects to improve the quality of life in that can be accomplished with increased revenue. Personally, I vote for the lower property taxes, which would be possible if we had the sales tax revenue from a Supercenter. THIS is why I am fighting for Wal-Mart.

The city of Pullman wants residents to start thinking now about a bond issue they’ll vote on in November.

The bond issue is slated to replace an expiring $1.98 million bond passed by voters in 1998 that paid for paths, sidewalks and greenways in town. The new bond will pay for similar projects while keeping property rates steady, city Finance Director Troy Woo said.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the residents to take care of some capital projects without raising taxes,” Woo said.

Homeowners pay about 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the 1998 bond, or about $48 per year for a $150,000 home.

The council is looking at two options for a replacement bond, Woo said. One option would keep the 32-cent tax levy, which would allow the city to borrow $2.1 million at present-day interest rates.

The second option would be to keep the same debt amount as the 1998 bond issue and let property taxes drop by two cents per $1,000. This option would save the owner of a $150,000 home about $3 per year.

The city has made an effort to keep property taxes as low as possible, said City Supervisor John Sherman. The 1998 bond issue is the only one from the city that homeowners are paying for, he said. The city instead has opted to pay for projects like the Neill Public Library and Pullman Fire Station out of existing budgets whenever it could.

That has become more challenging in recent years since a spate of initiatives limited the amount of money the city received from the state.

The council has had to put off many capital projects as it juggled finances in the wake of the initiatives, Sherman said.

“That’s where our investment in the community has really lagged,” Sherman said.

The city defines capital projects as things like building or equipment that cost more than $5,000, Sherman said. That could include buying and improving park land, sidewalks, parking lots, recreation facilities and transportation infrastructure.

Some projects considered for the new bond issue are street repairs on all four of Pullman’s hills, an arts pavilion with restrooms at Sunnyside Park, improvements to Reaney Pool and a spray pool for young children, a picnic shelter and restrooms at Kruegel Park, a new path on Johnson Road that would connect to Bishop Boulevard and various sidewalk repairs around town.

The City Council has the final decision OF which option to pick and which projects to fund, Sherman said. But they want residents to have some say about what they’ll pay for with their tax dollars.

“It’s a small property tax issue in terms of the size, but at the same time we want to make sure anything we put before voters is something they want,” Sherman said. “They want to hear from their constituents and I think that’s a very wise thing for the council to do instead of coming up with a list on their own.”

There is no deadline to call or write City Hall about the bond issue, but the council hopes people will submit their suggestions before a scheduled public meeting June 6. The council must submit the ballot issue to the county auditor’s office by Sept. 22, Sherman said.

* Comments on the bond issue can be e-mailed to the city at admin@pullman-wa.gov with “Bond Issue” in the subject line, or mailed to Mayor Glenn Johnson, 325 SE Paradise St., Pullman, WA, 99163.


Possible projects for a $2 million bond issue include:

Street Repairs

Southwest Center Street and Southwest Crestview Street — $307,000

Southeast Crestview Street ­— $322,000

Northwest Turner Drive and Northwest Terre View Drive — $309,000

Northeast Maiden Lane, Northeast Terre View Drive and Northeast Merman Drive — $301,000


Pullman Arts Pavilion (band shell) in Sunnyside Park — $350,000

Improvements to Reaney Pool and spray pool for tots — $250,000

Kruegel Park picnic shelter and restrooms — $200,000

Lighting at City Playfields — $200,000

Athletic field improvements — $110,000


Paved path on east side of North Grand Avenue — $80,000

Johnson Road path — $575,000

College Hill path — $159,000

Various sidewalk repairs — $250,000

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