No property tax increase for Tonasket

TONASKET – The Tonasket City Council declared there would not be a property tax increase in 2011 during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

The proposed ad valorem ordinance would have raised property taxes by one percent, but the council voted 3-2 not to increase property taxes after Mayor Patrick Plumb asked each individual council member what they thought of the ordinance.

“I feel, economically, it seems like things are still struggling, the county has raised so many rates and I don’t feel comfortable putting more taxes on people,” Council Member Jill Vugteveen said.

“If we don’t continue to slowly raise things, we will end up needing a large increase,” Council Member Connie Maden said.

“Costs are going up and I don’t think it’s diligent to not increase,” Council Member Scott Olsen said.

“Everything’s gone up, people come up to me constantly asking that we don’t increase this and if $1,000 and change makes the difference, it’s already too late,” Council Member Jean Ramsey said.

“I understand a delay in increase can lead to large increases but at this point, I’m voting no because I’m ambivalent,” Council Member Julianna Griffin said.

Ramsey moved to not increase property taxes with Vugteveen seconding her motion before the motion was passed 3-2.

During this same meeting, the council approved their $3,034,262.17 2011 budget. A main topic of conversation during the budget passage was the distribution of hotel/motel funds. The Tonasket Airport Improvement Club will receive $800, the Tonasket Rodeo Club will receive $2,500, the Garlic Festival/CCC will receive $800, the North Country Car Club will receive $700, the Tonasket Chamber of Commerce will receive $800, the Tonasket Visitors and Business Resource Center will receive $6,000, the promotion of Tonasket at the Northwest Aviation Conference will receive $800 and the Coulee Corridor Publication will receive $600.

“The budget that you have received includes the increase of $53.54 per month for medical coverage for each employee, it includes the $30 per month per employee that has previously gone to the deferred comp program that will not be part of each employees wages in 2011 and this year (2010) will be the end of the deferred comp benefit,” a memo written by City Clerk Alice Attwood states. “There will not be an increase to anyone’s wages in 2011 other than the $30 per month.”

The memo goes on to state that the finance committee wanted to recognize the efforts of the Public Works crew to keep the city running even on holidays and during weekends and therefore decided to give the crew an on-call amount of $30 per weekend as well as an extra $15 when they work on holidays to go with their two hours at time-and-a-half.

The next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in city hall.