Monthly Archive: November 2019

Centralia Council Reverses Course: Increases Property Tax Levy 1%

In what was described by Mayor Lee Coumbs as a “Miniscule” Tax Increase, the City County gathered 4 votes to increase the Property Tax Levy by 1%; the 3rd time in 4 years the City Council has increased the property tax levy by 1%.

I am disappointed by the vote, but not surprised. Councilors Coumbs, Barnes, Staebler, and Vogt, have increased taxes in the past, including last year. Actually, this tax has been raised 1% the three out of the past four years.

Peter Abbarno listening to a presentation by Centralia City Manager Rob Hill in early 2019.

This increase was so unnecessary, City Staff made the recommendation that the council approve a 0% increase in the property tax levy. That passed 4-3 two weeks ago. The increase will be deposited in the general fund, without any formal designation.

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Abbarno discusses King County-City of Seattle plan to bus homeless out of Puget Sound on AM1470 KELA

This week, Peter Abbarno, attorney and Centralia City Councilmember, discussed the controversial King County “homeward bound” plan to bus homeless individuals in King County to communities outside the Puget Sound.

King County budgeting to bus homeless out of King County (or adjacent counties) is completely unacceptable; especially, considering the mismanagment of this issue by King County and City of Seattle.

It is not a compulsory program; however, many participants in the program in other states reported they felt pressured to participate. Furthermore, many desperate homeless, or suffering from mental illness or drug addicted, are at a huge knowledge disadvantage when contracting to waive their personal liberties of never returning or applying for services again in King County.

Homelessness is a complex issue with many causes that can’t be addressed in a vacuum! Homelessness in Seattle and King County can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t be addressed by bussing people to ill-equipped and under-funded communities outside of the Puget Sound. This does nothing to reduce poverty- it only move poverty to communities suffering from many of the same issues.

Communities outside of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties must stand together and oppose this approach. Seattle has among the highest percentage of homelessness in the country and that is a result of THEIR failed policies. Their response to homelessness is not acceptable and could financially cripple many counties and municipalities! This does nothing to address drug addiction, mental illness, education/training, or other causes of poverty or homelessness.

The Guardian: Bussed Out at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2017/dec/20/bussed-out-america-moves-homeless-people-country-study

NY Post: https://nypost.com/2019/10/26/nyc-homeless-initiative-sends-people-across-us-without-telling-receiving-cities/

Seattle and King County to Bus Homeless Out of Puget Sound!

According to King5 News, as well as other outlets, the King County Council approved $100,000 in funding Wednesday for a program that would bus the homeless outside the county.

King County budgeting to bus homeless out of King County (or adjacent counties) is completely unacceptable; especially, considering the mismanagement of this issue by King County and City of Seattle.

Homelessness and poverty are complex issues with many causes that can’t be addressed in a vacuum! Homelessness in Seattle and King County can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t be addressed by bussing people to ill-equipped and under-funded communities outside of the Puget Sound.

King County and Seattle do not ensure strong and adequate family support systems are in place, long-term housing has been secured, or that appropriate services are available. Furthermore, the individuals “contracts” his or her right to ever return to King County. Contracting away the constitutional right and personal liberty to travel freely is against public policy and should not be found enforceable.

Communities outside of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties must stand together and oppose this approach. Seattle has among the highest percentage of homelessness in the country and that is a result of THEIR failed policies. Their response to homelessness is not acceptable and could financially impact many counties and municipalities! This does nothing to address drug addiction, mental illness, education/training, or other causes of poverty or homelessness.

King County and Seattle are much better equipped to address their community’s needs. Placing the financial and emotional burden on our community and the community of others is not acceptable. The services provided can be found at kingcounty.gov/depts/health/locations/homeless-health.aspx.

WA Economic Forecast: Mostly Sunny with Chance of Clouds

The Near General Fund revenue forecast for the biennium is $51.733 billion, an increase of $299 million and 12.3% more than that of the 2017-19 biennium, according to the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

“This is good news for the State of Washington, said Peter Abbarno, Centralia City Councilmember. “It is my hope that the state Legislature does not create new, or increase existing, revenue sources in 2020. It is time to show some spending restraint and look for government efficiencies.”

The Near General Fund- State includes the General Fund-State, Education Legacy Trust Account and Washington Opportunity Pathways Account and provides the fullest picture of resources available for budget purposes.

Forecasted Near GF-S revenue for 2021-23 biennium has been increased by $181 million to $55.154 billion.

According to a press release by the ERFC, ‘U.S. and Washington economic forecasts are similar to the September forecast. The baseline forecast has slowing growth but no recession. The level of personal income is higher than in September due to revised historical data. Forecast risks include the impact of trade disputes and a slowing global economy.’

“The state Legislature and governor should be preserving the increased funds in anticipation of the slowing global economy and potential future slowdown,” added Abbarno. “Unfortunately, increased revenue and a sunny economic forecast is overcast by the excessive spending and creation of new programs during the past legislative session. Working families can’t afford new taxes and fees to support government programs created without reliable funding sources.”

The level of uncertainty in the baseline remains elevated, with downside risks outweighing upside risks. Washington’s economy is continuing to outperform the nation but not as dramatically as in the past.

The Full Report can be accessed at www.ERFC.wa.gov

Centralia Votes to NOT Raise Property Tax Levy

On Tuesday, November 12, the Centralia City Council voted (4-3) to not raise the property tax levy. I was joined by Councilmember Luond, McGee, and Barnes to hold the line on tax increases.

I have voted against every unnecessary tax increase since first being elected in 2015. This is a policy statement, not a political statement.

Our city is seeing increased revenue from existing revenue sources. Our city can and already has a balanced budget with increased reserves. Any tax increase now is unnecessary and only punishes working families and fixed income residents in our community. I am glad to see my motion to hold the line on tax increases pass this year.

Centralia attorney Peter Abbarno joins Association of Washington Business’ Government Affairs Director Clay Hill to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5129, which would increase taxes on local small businesses. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)

The City of Centralia approved the 2019-2020 budget at $127,545,319 budget. The budget was balanced and increased our projected reserves. In April 2019, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve an amendment to the budget because of increased revenue. The new amended budget was approved at $133,623,427. In July 2019, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a second amendment to the budget. The new amended budget was approved at $134,722,760. That was an increase of $1,099,333.

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Seattle Wants to Open Flood Gates for Income Tax

In July 2019, the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled the City of Seattle has the authority to impose and enforce an income tax.

About two years ago, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed an income tax. The Court of Appeals struck down the “tax on the rich” scheme and ruled that the tax could be potentially imposed on all taxpayers equally.

Last week, the Court of Appeals rejected the Motion to Reconsider the ruling, so it will move on to the State Supreme Court.

According to Article VII of the Washington’s Constitution,

“all taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only.”

A 1933 State Supreme Court case (and others) also struck down the idea of creating a bracketed income tax. The People of the State of Washington have consistently voted against an income tax. Like the current issues with I-976 car tabs, it appears Seattle and Olympia do not like the “will of the people!”

Centralia attorney and business owner Peter Abbarno joins Association of Washington Business’ Government Affairs Director Clay Hill to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5129, which would increase taxes on local small businesses. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)
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Initiative 976 Passed: Politicians Should Listen!

Seattle and Olympia Politicians are ignoring the will and vote of the people!

This is an example of where politicians and politics have gone horribly wrong. The people of the State of Washington were educated on both sides of the I-976 issue for many months and voted.

The people did not vote the way Seattle and Olympia wanted so ‘we are ignorant’, ‘we must be taught a lesson’, and they will legislated by force when necessary. The use of the judiciary to force unnecessary legislation or to strike down the will of the people has been overused.

Our community, like many, want a voice; and it should be heard. I-976 passed. The Legislature and Governor should take that loud and clear message and find a way to create a more effective and efficient system to improve and maintain infrastructure- not legislate from the courts.

Many of the voters I spoke with this election said there significant tax fatigue among working families and they want to send a message to Olympia that government needs to be more efficient and accountable to them.

Voters in the 2019 Election soundly rejected the imposition by the Governor and Legislature of tax after tax. The advisory votes are not binding, but surely a thermometer. The Legislature passed: HB 2158- B&O increase of $380 million; SB 5998- Real Estate Excise tax for $245 million; HB 2167- B&O increase on banks for $133 million; SB 6016- B&O on investment management companies for $59 million; HB 1873- Vaping tax for $27 million (which was spent but likely lower due to ban on flavored vaping); SB 6004- B&O tax increase for travel agents for $5 million; and all the tax incentives removed and title only bills in the dark of night.