Now that the Pullman City Council has decided how to spend $2.2 million in potential bond money, voters will have two months to decide whether to approve it.No one here has ever said that a "vote for the bond is a vote to raise taxes." I understand that this bond will not raise taxes. I said that I would be voting against the bond because it is bad public policy. We can't live without streets. We can live without new public bathrooms or bike paths. It's all a question of priorities. You can't drive a Cadillac on a Yugo budget.
If 60 percent of local voters approve the bond, the money will be used to create new walking paths and improve city parks. No money would go to street maintenance – and that has some residents concerned.
“You think street repairs are expensive now, wait a few years when the price of oil – and therefore asphalt – is higher,” wrote Tom Forbes, a Pullman blogger and co-founder of Businesses and Residents for Economic Opportunity. “Now is the time to do the needed street work.”
At the bond meeting, councilwoman Ann Heath pushed for a proposal that did not include streets, because that could put the entire bond in jeopardy November.
“I think that the street issue ... really polarizes people,” Heath said. “I would like to address streets at a later time, and we may have to bite the bullet sometime and go [back] to the voters.”
Councilman Francis Benjamin echoed that later in the meeting, as he discussed the possibility of asking residents for a future utility-tax increase to pay for street repairs.
On Palousitics, a local conservative blog, Forbes expressed concern because Pullman already faces an abundance of other taxes, he wrote. He called for the city to use the money it has before considering a tax increase.
Several councilmembers were taken by surprise when City Attorney Laura McAloon told them it would be unconstitutional to combine parks projects and street repairs on one ballot proposition. The legal firm consulting the city said everything in the proposition must have a natural relationship. This effectively ruled out a mix of parks and streets, unless different propositions were put on the ballot.
Mayor Glenn Johnson said approving the bond would not mean a tax increase because it would replace an existing bond passed in 1998. However, given the possibility of a future increase for street repairs, some Palousitics readers are already calling a vote for the bond a vote to raise taxes.
Pullman voters will have the final say in the general election Nov. 7.
We can't even BEGIN to think about luxuries until we solve our budget problems by expanding our commercial retail base and stopping the hemorrhaging of $100 million every year in taxable income to surrounding localities. There is no point in pretending every thing is okay when it isn't.
I really do think every other source of funding must be exhausted before you can even consider raising taxes. And as the streets will need repair eventually, and since the city has no extra budget funds and can't realistically expect any help from the state, a utility tax increase does seem likely down the road.
The article also mentions my affiliation with BREO, but any opinions stated on this blog are strictly my own. BREO has no official position on the bond.
Update from April Coggins:
I said it as a response and here is why: We must repave our streets, whether this bond is approved or not. This bond is estimated to cost a $60.00 per year for a $200,000.00 house. If the money for the bond is used not for streets, but for other "interests" then we will still have to raise taxes on utilities or approve another bond for streets, which equates to more more tax money. We all know that the inevitably streets must be paved and we will have to pay the taxes to do it. If we use none of the money on this bond to pave streets, we will be voting to increase our taxes.
The bond we are going to vote on is $2,000,000.
I was given the estimate of $10,000,000 needed to properly repave Pullman, five times the current bond. If taxes for the current bond is $60.00, then taxes for repaving the streets will be $300.00. If the current bond is defeated, we would see a net increase in taxes of $240.00 vs. a net increase of $300.00. So claiming that this bond won't raise taxes is only true temporarily, until we finally, but invevitably address the streets.