Photo credit: City of Yelm Government Facebook
– Story Highlights:
* WHERE IS YELM HEADED?
* HOW MUCH MORE CAN CITY RESIDENTS AFFORD IN COUNCIL ADDING TAXES/FEES?
* FROM 2005-2015, HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS CHOSEN OVER DIVERSIFYING ECONOMY.
* MORE TAXES/FEES ON RESIDENTS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE IN A BEDROOM COMMUNITY!
* The public was omitted from being involved in an added REET taxation last night.
* While the council has the RCW authority to tax, disingenuous omitting the public.
* Public not told about other revenue-producing alternatives examined before taxing?
* Storm-water rate increases already approved, water/sewer increases looming.
* All of this on top of an important schools bond in February.
* Yelm’s City Council approved a REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) on property sellers,
* The .25% tax would equate to $700 on a $280,000 property sales price.
* This is an addition to the county’s excise tax.
* The Council was told only Yelm & Rainier do not have this tax in the county.
* Why did the Council not seek public input from Yelm Real Estate Agents?
* Why did the Council not seek constituents’ input in a Public Hearing?
* The Council majority urged this to pass to raise city revenue,
* Only Councilor DePinto urged a “no” vote, said “enough is enough” taxing constituents.
At last night’s Yelm City Council session, councilors were presented with voting on Ordinance No. 1030, a REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) on all city of Yelm property sellers. There was no public comment period nor public discourse with local real estate agents on this tax. As was the case last night, public comments are not permitted on an item that is on that council agenda, nor at a previous council session having this on that agenda, nor the council’s study session. Therefore, no opportunity was provided for public comment addressing the council personally and on-the-record all three times this has been on the council’s agendas.
Only Mayoral candidate/Councilor Joe DePinto urged the council to vote against this ordinance. DePinto said there should not only be taxes and fees from which to raise revenue, that other sources need to be examined such an economic growth. DePinto said, “enough is enough.”
Other Councilors including Carmody, Littlefield, and Stillwell all spoke in favor of this tax as a vehicle to fund the city’s infrastructure crisis: roads, water, sewer, storm-water systems. Littlefield also referenced the coming schools bond. Carmody differed with DePinto, adding the economy can’t grow without getting money to fix these city services. Stillwell said he spoke to real estate agents who said this tax was not an issue, though no names were mentioned.
– From the Washington Research Council (1993) on REETs in Washington State.
“Revenue generated by the tax is to be used by these local governments solely for financing the capital projects specified in the capital facilities portions of their comprehensive plans. Cities and counties that choose, but are not required, to plan under GMA may also impose the tax, but only with voter approval.”
– UPDATE: October 5, 2017
I was not clear about the provisions in the RCW, as I ascertained there was a provision about public involvement in REET II, which was verified in a call to Thurston County Commissioner Gary Edwards’ office. REET II can be authorized by the municipality (Yelm’s City Council), rand the tax revenue can ONLY be spent on infrastructure improvements, that was correctly mentioned to the council. However, the difference between REET I and REET II is that the public can repeal a REET II via a referendum if put to a public vote, which was omitted to the council.
Councilors Carmody, Littlefield, Stillwell mentioned funding city infrastructure projects by this tax.
If so, requiring voter approval should be verified so the city is not compromised!
– Bottom line:
* The focus should not be solely on the passage of this REET.
* Where is the public outrage they were omitted from a public hearing on another tax?
While the council has RCW’s authority to tax, disingenuous omitting the public!
* Why were Yelm Real Estate Agents not brought in for comments to educate councilors?
* Why were other revenue-producing alternatives examined not presented, if at all?
* Mayoral candidate DePinto IS correct – “enough is enough!”
* City Council should vote to hire a consultant on learning to raise revenue elsewhere.
* Sept. 26 will now be known for Yelm Council’s ‘red line’ that taxes/fees will be primarily used to raise revenue on the backs of their constituents, property owners, and residents.
* Is this what Yelm residents want for another 4 years?
* Voters in Yelm city limits can vote for change this November!