Tagged: Centralia

Community and State Responds to COVID-19

Many families and small businesses are being impacted by the Outbreak of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. And as of Friday the 13th, every student in the State of Washington is on a school break until April 24th.

As a husband and father, as a business owner, and as Centralia mayor pro tem, I am concerned about the short and long term financial, emotional, and health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. This is a very scary time for many of the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods. It is important to stay calm, use caution, and follow sound advice.

I am working closely with the city, county, and state officials to communicate what I believe are the priorities for our communities. Locally, the City of Centralia created a site to provide information about local community services and ways the Centralia residents can pay bills online, view public meetings online, and try to stay engaged while being safe.

Peter Abbarno, Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District and Mayor Pro Tem.

On Thursday, March 12th, State Lawmakers allocated $200 million towards addressing the outbreak. Of the $200 million earmarked, $175 million will be for state and local response, and $25 million will help businesses impacted by the area outbreak of COVID-19.

The details on how the money will be specifically spent has not been released.

The State should be investing the funds locally; especially in distressed counties, and resist the urge to spend the money on expanding government programs unrelated to the virus outbreak. Small rural communities are really pulling together and I am very proud of the response; unfortunately, the very quick closing of schools without notice or a coordinated plan placed additional financial and emotional strain on working families, ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families, and families living in poverty.

Everyone should be taking the precautions necessary to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy and not risk contracting the virus and passing it to our most vulnerable in the community. I also encourage safely supporting local businesses where you can and connect with community programs and nonprofit organizations.

Peter Abbarno, Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District and Centralia Mayor Pro Tem.

For more local information, visit the following:

City of Centralia COVID-19 Update (Community Services)

Lewis County Department of Health

Cowlitz County Department of Health & Human Services

Thurston County Department of Health & Social Services

Washington State Department of Health

Washington Department of Financial Institutions

Washington Department of Commerce

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Minimum Wage Increases on January 1st: JOBS v. WAGES

The state minimum wage increases on Wednesday, January 1, from $12 an hour to $13.50. In cities, like Seattle, the minimum wage is already higher than the state’s and in SeaTac, minimum wage is $15.64.

Family Wage Jobs aren’t created by focusing on the word ‘WAGE’. Family Wage Jobs are created by focusing on the word ‘JOBS’. Government needs to incentivize economic growth, encourage business development, eliminate overburdensome regulations, and invest in an education system that gives students greater career and college ready options. The emphasis should be on Job Creation.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia City Councilmember

In 2016, Voters passed Initiative 1433 to increase the state’s minimum wage every year from 2017 to 2020. Washington’s minimum wage was $9.47 an hour; the eighth highest minimum wage in the country. Some municipalities, like the City of Seattle, increased minimum wage to $15 an hour.

A report released by the University of Washington in 2017, which was commissioned by the Seattle City Council, found that although the economy absorbed the first wage increase from $9.47 an hour to $11 an hour, things were different when wages increased again. When the wage increased to $13 an hour for some small employers and $15 an hour for some large employers, it caused a reduction in hours for low-wage workers. The UW report, says they found an approximate 9 percent decline in the number of hours for those earning less than $19 an hour. That offsets the 3 percent increase in pay workers got, having a negative impact overall.

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Motion Passes to Give Property Tax Increase Back to the Community through Local Organizations

On December 10th, Councilmember Peter Abbarno made a motion to give back the 1% property tax levy increase to local community organizations. The motion passed unanimously. The full Council Meeting can be seen at City of Centralia Council Page.

I was opposed to increasing the property tax levy in the first place and was very disappointed to see taxes increase in the City of Centralia. The City Council approved a $139 million biennial balanced budget that preserves and increases reserves. Any increase in taxes or fees was unnecessary, but I could not procedurally rescind it outright.

The Motion added to funds in the “Community Projects” line item and allows local community organizations to apply for the funding. Last year, Reliable Enterprises received the funds for a Rent Well Program.

The line item is used to support the Lewis County Seniors, Severe Weather Shelter, and other organizations that give back.

At the same meeting on December 10th, the City Council approved a budget amendment that increased the budget by almost $5 million. The Centralia City Staff Recommended no increase in the property tax levy.

We, as a City Council, have the choice of higher taxes and bigger government or lower taxes and efficient government. I agreed with the city staff recommendation that no tax increase was necessary. I wanted to give the money back to the taxpayers through non-profit organizations that can stretch dollars much farther and spend dollars much better than government.

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.

Movember? How you can help!

During the month of November, many men across the country and world take a break from shaving; also referred as No Shave November or Movember!

Whatever you grow will save a Brother, Father, Grandfather, Uncle. . .

History

The story that I patched together from Men’s Health and Tools of Men was that back in 2003 friends Travis Garone and Luke Slattery met in a bar in Melbourne, Australia.  One of their friends mother was currently battling breast cancer at the time and it gave them inspiration to start their own foundation to help raise awareness about men’s health causes.

Specifically they wanted to focus on generating a men’s specific disease – prostate cancer. Since then, the Movember Foundation now helps to generate awareness for testicular cancer along with mental health and suicide prevention.

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Centralia Fireworks Poll!

On October 22, the Centralia City Council may vote to change the Centralia Municipal Code (CMC) 5.98 regulating the sale and discharge of Fireworks.

In addition to doorbelling and personal interaction, I created an online poll to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Current Law

Purchase and Sale

Centralia currently follows RCW 70.77 which states it is legal to sell and purchase consumer fireworks: June 28 from 9am to 11pm; June 29 – July 4 from 9am to 11pm; July 5 from noon to 11pm; and December 27 – 31 from 9am to 11pm.

Discharge

Centralia currently follows RCW 70.77 which states it is legal to discharge consumer fireworks: June 28 from Noon to 11pm; June 29 – July 3 from 9am to Midnight; July 4th from 9am to Midnight; July 5 from 9am to 11pm; and December 31 – January 1 from 6pm to 1am.

Proposal Before City Council

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Centralia Holds First Open House for City Streetscape!

The City of Centralia held the first of many public open house discussions about the proposed City Streetscape project. The $3 million dollar project could include wayfaring signs, banners, esthetic improvement, and sidewalk and street improvements. There are a lot of possibilities that our community should be excited about.

In June 2019, the Centralia City Council discussed the project and the varying opinions on how the money should be invested. Our city needs to look at the priorities and what will be the best investment today and long-term for local residents, businesses, and visitors.

Councilmember Peter Abbarno gave tepid approval for the project in March, stating his wish for the money to be used to extend sewer lines or other improvements to infrastructure meant to spur economic growth. He said Thursday he hopes to find out more about how the streetscaping will benefit the local economy, as well as what steps will be taken to make arterial streets more welcoming for pedestrians and those needing Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant access points. . . .”

The Daily Chronicle
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