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La Conner approves property tax increase, budget cuts

November 30, 2018

LA CONNER — The La Conner Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a 4.86 percent increase in property taxes and to reallocate $50,000 to the town’s flood control fund.

The votes passed 4-0, with Councilman Bill Stokes absent.

The 4.86 percent property tax increase is a combination of a 1 percent property tax increase that is allowed for 2019 and increases the town did not take in previous years. Washington allows cities and towns to bank property tax increases not taken in a given year for future use.

The Town Council voted to approve the increase, which will generate an additional $18,248 in 2019, in order to bolster the town’s general fund that pays for things such as police, fire and streets.

Town Administrator Scott Thomas said the general fund has declined over the years due to inflation and increased costs of doing business.

In 2019, a property valued at $250,000 will see a property tax increase of about $22.79, Thomas said in an email, but new construction — which will be assessed at a higher value in 2019 — might slightly sway those numbers.

“New construction adds to the overall assessed valuation of the town, and thus reduces the tax rate very slightly for everyone,” Thomas said.

La Conner’s flood control fund now totals $50,145 after a reallocation of $49,350 from its 2019 budget and $650 from its general fund — a decision spurred by Councilman Jacques Brunisholz’ call Nov. 13 for money to be put aside for a project known as the “ring dike.”

To accomplish a portion of the reallocation, the council reduced next years’ fire department budget from $63,200 to $53,200, the Art’s Alive budget from $18,000 to $10,000 and the Fourth of July budget from $18,000 to $10,000.

“In most of our funds, we don’t spend as much as has been allocated,” Thomas said. “We just lowered the maximum level that could be spent.”

No decisions have been made on how the flood control money will be spent, but a document detailing justification for the “ring dike” was handed out Tuesday for council members to review.

In the event of river flooding, the proposed dike would serve as protection for La Conner by encompassing the town limits.

The town will adopt its 2019 budget in December.

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