Archive for the ‘News Items’ Category

Kitsap Sun: Port Orchard Council Votes Down 2010 Property Tax Increase

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

PORT ORCHARD — The “Fred Factor” was at work as the Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday voted to hold its 2010 property tax levy at the 2009 amount.

The ordinance came after a Nov. 10 measure to increase the property tax levy by 101 percent failed to pass the council.

Councilmen Fred Chang and Fred Olin both voted against the Nov. 10 measure to collect 101 percent of the 2009 levy amount, as allowed by law. Both said any increase, however small, would be wrong to impose on city taxpayers considering the state of the economy.

Also voting against the tax increase were Councilmen Jerry Childs and Jim Colebank, who said they promised voters during their campaigns they would not raise taxes without a vote. Voting in support were council members John Clauson, Carolyn Powers and Rob Putaansuu, all on the finance committee.

On Tuesday, the council (minus Powers, who was out of town) unanimously approved an amended ordinance that leaves the property tax levy at the 2009 level.

Because of negative inflation over the past 12 months, Port Orchard and other jurisdictions have been put in the position of having to declare “substantial need” to keep their property tax levies from shrinking in proportion to the economy.

Ordinarily, the county and cities with more than 10,000 residents can take an increase over the previous year’s tax levy of one percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is smaller. Kitsap County and the city of Bremerton have already declared substantial need and taken the one-percent increase to which they ordinarily would have been entitled.

At a Nov. 17 work study on the revised proposal, Childs and Colebank said they would support “banking,” or deferring, the one-percent increase the city is entitled to for use in a future tax year. But Olin was opposed to that, and Chang didn’t commit either way. That led Putaansuu to coin the term “Fred Factor” to describe the potential influence Chang and Olin’s votes had on the issue.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Colebank proposed removing the reference to banked capacity, saying the clause could cause the whole ordinance to fail. Chang also stated that he opposed banking the one percent.

The approved ordinance, which keeps the property tax levy at 100 percent of the 2009 amount, forfeits the right to take at some future date the one percent that would have been allowed in 2010.

The council must now trim just more than $16,000 from its total budget of just more than $24 million. The budget, with the $16,000 the city would have received from the tax increase, was balanced without layoffs or employee furloughs. Proposed cuts include the elimination of BKAT broadcasts of council meetings and reduction in parks funding among other line items, according to Mayor Lary Coppola.

The council will hold a work study session on the budget at 6 p.m. Dec. 2. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 7. The 2010 budget is set for adoption at the councils Dec. 8 meeting. All meetings are at City Hall, 216 Prospect St.

Read moreonline.

‘Fred Factor’ stymies budget process

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The combined efforts of two Port Orchard City Councilmembers named Fred has changed the city’s budget landscape, unfolding at the council’s Nov. 24 meeting.

The council was voting on a “substantial need” resolution that would allow them to raise the city’s portion of property taxes that can be collected in 2010, to 101 percent of the current rate. The money raised would be used in two areas, to maintain services and provide a fund to be used in case of an emergency.

The increase to property owners would be about $1 per $100,000 of assessed value.

But the opposition of two council members, Fred Chang and Fred Olin, defeated the measure.

Instead, the motion passed only allowed the city to tax residents at its current rate.

Due to the lower property assessments, tax money collected will actually be lower than 2009 levels. This will cause a shortfall of approximately $16,000 that will need to be cut from other programs, according to City Treasurer Allan Martin.

Martin, along with Mayor Lary Coppola, has said the levy rate increase was necessary in order to maintain current service levels.

A similar motion declaring substantial need was defeated Nov. 10, with councilmembers Jerry Childs and Jim Colebank joining the two Freds in opposition to the measure.

Councilmembers Rob Putaansuu, Carolyn Powers and John Clauson voted in favor.

At that point, Coppola and Martin met with Childs, Colbank and Chang to provide budget details, with Coppola stating the opposing votes were not aware of the issue.

Childs and Colbank then reversed their vote.

“I had made a campaign promise to not raise taxes,” Childs said. “But since less money was being collected, it didn’t feel like a raise to me.”

Olin did not attend the meeting, saying he had made up his mind and would not vote in favor of the measure.

“This was a matter of principle,” he said Wednesday. “There are a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t think city services are in danger.”

For this particular vote, a five-member majority is required.

Since Powers was on vacation for the most recent meeting, the two Freds were able to defeat the measure.

Since Powers supported the measure in the past, her presence this week would have presumably approved the tax increase.

At a recent study session, Putaansuu referred to “the Fred Factor” as a force on the council.

“I was dismayed to see Mr. Chang and Mr. Olin put their personal philosophy ahead of the future needs of the citizens of Port Orchard,” Coppola said in an e-mail.

Olin brought a book to Tuesday’s meeting, titled “The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary.” The book, written by Mark Sanborn, defines a “Fred” as someone who makes a difference.

The city council will hold a special work study session to discuss the proposed 2010 Budget at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at City Hall.

The meeting is open to the public.

For more information call (360) 876-4407.

Port Orchard Council to Reconsider Tax Ordinance

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

By Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun
Posted November 18, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.

PORT ORCHARD —

Port Orchard City Council members who earlier this month voted against a 1 percent property tax increase said they’re willing to consider an ordinance setting the 2010 levy at the same level as 2009.

The proposal, hammered out at a work study meeting Tuesday, will come before the council Nov. 24. It will include a provision for “banking” the allowed 1 percent increase for a possible future tax increase.

Without the ordinance, the amount the city could collect would shrink, because of the shrinking economy, to 99.2 percent of the 2009 levy amount.

On Nov. 10, the council voted 4-3 against an ordinance that would have increased the city’s total property tax collection to 101 percent of what it collected in 2009. Voting against the measure were Jerry Childs, Jim Colebank, Fred Chang and Fred Olin. Voting for the measure were Carolyn Powers, John Clauson and Rob Putaansuu, all on the finance committee.

The tax hike would have cost property owners less than a penny per $1,000 of assessed value, or $3 per year on a $300,000 home.

But Mayor Lary Coppola did not take no for an answer. He convened a meeting with Treasurer Allan Martin on Friday to “educate” the no voters. Olin declined to attend.

Until this year, the council could take the 1 percent without a vote. But with annexations, the population has grown over 10,000, triggering new rules for setting property tax levies.

Clauson said the city’s 2010 budget, even with the 1 percent increase, would have been lean. Spiraling health care costs and pension contributions weigh heavily on the general fund, about half of which goes toward salaries and benefits, he said.

The council on Tuesday reached consensus on a compromise that would allow the city to tread water for 2010. Olin was home with the flu.

“I don’t feel like we’re raising anybody’s taxes, so I’m ready to go with the 100 percent,” said Childs, who also is on board with banking the 1 percent increase.

Colebank, too, has changed his position.

Under state law, taxing districts that forgo an allowed tax increase in any given year can apply it in the future. The provision was meant to discourage a use-it-or-lose-it mentality, Martin said.

Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery said the provision had a greater impact before Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747 in 2001 limited annual tax increases to 1 percent of the previous year’s total property tax amount (not counting the amount due from new construction).

“Some districts did have a lot of banked capacity, and they probably lived off it for a number of years after the Eyman initiative,” Avery said.

The council, with seven members, needs a majority plus one to pass the tax ordinance. Powers will be out of town on Nov. 24. So the outcome of the vote, as Putaansuu noted, could be determined by “the Fred factor.”

Chang at Tuesday’s meeting said he supports keeping the levy at the 2009 level, but he wasn’t ready to commit on the “banked capacity” provision.

Olin said on Wednesday said he’s always favored maintaining the 2009 levy amount. But he will vote against the banked capacity.

“To me all it’s telling our citizens is we’re not going to charge you now, but we’re going to reserve the right to charge you later,” Olin said. “That’s not the message I want to give our citizens.”

Both provisions will be included in a single ordinance, making it an all-or-nothing vote.

Read the article online.

Mayor Coppola on the Mend (and Feisty) After Recent Surgery

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Note: This blog entry was also printed in the Sunday, November 15, 2009 edition of the Kitsap Sun:

Speaking of South Kitsap: Mayor Coppola on the Mend (and Feisty) After Recent Surgery

South Kitsap Reporter Chris Henry talks about life in the Kitsap County seat of Port Orchard and surrounding areas.

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola said he’s doing “better every day” after emergency surgery on Oct. 22. Coppola, 59 and otherwise in good health, was admitted to Harrison Medical Center Oct. 20 for treatment of a cyst on his tailbone that had ruptured and become infected.

On his West Sound Politics blog Tuesday, Coppola said it was, “Nothing life-threatening, but fairly serious just the same, and recovery has just been slower than I had hoped.”

Coppola was in the hospital for six days. Throughout the ordeal he dropped 30 pounds, and it shows. He’s been working short days, 7 or 8 hours versus 12 to 15, annoyed with having to slow down and impatient to get back up to speed.

“I expect to be back to full strength in a week or two,” he said.

Coppola, in the blog post, shows himself scrappy as ever, pulling no punches in his acerbic recap of the Nov. 3 election.

On the Bremerton mayoral race, he appeared to criticize both candidates, calling Patty Lent, the apparent winner, “a nice person, but not really what I would term a decisive decision maker.” He handed Will Maupin a sideways compliment, saying, “I believe he is the best qualified for the job. However, based on my own personal experiences, his uncompromising, ‘My Way of the Highway’ style wouldn’t play well with the other electeds he’d have to deal with. For this reason alone, Bremerton may be better off with Lent at the helm.”

Coppola had a similar assessment of Becky Erickson, who ousted incumbent Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade. Coppola wrote, “While Erickson is very smart and very resourceful, her highly aggressive personal style isn’t going to play well with the other electeds she has to work with in order to get anything done. Quade didn’t just lose here — I think Poulsbo did.”

Speaking of having to work with people, I asked the mayor if he wasn’t worried about burning political bridges. Coppola had no worries on this count. He said he’s simply providing a political analysis, and nothing that hasn’t been said before. “I don’t think I’m the only one to say that out loud,” he said of his comments about Maupin and Lent.

Closer to home, Coppola conveyed in no uncertain terms his dismay over results of the race for City Council Position 6, in which incumbent Fred Chang easily beat challenger Amy Igloi-Matsuno.

Coppola in his blog elaborated on his decision not to endorse Igloi-Matsuno, even though he endorsed incumbent Carolyn Powers over challenger Cindy Lucarelli in the position 2 race. “I believed Amy should win on her own. I didn’t want her tarred with any negativity that could be attributed to me.”

What negativity? I asked.

“I knew that Fred Chang was out there talking about the mayor’s salary,” Coppola said, referencing the council’s decision to give full-time compensation for the mayor’s position for the first six months of 2009. The decision, the council discovered on closer look at the WACs, will remain in effect through the remainder of Coppola’s term. The law allows a council to increase a sitting mayor’s salary, but not to reduce it until the seat comes up for election.

Coppola in his blog slammed Chang, saying “… what has disturbed me the most were reports from people who stated that when doorbelled by Chang, he claimed to be ‘…the only council member who opposed the Mayor tripling his own salary.’ It doesn’t get much sleazier than that.”

The factual inaccuracy of the statement in quotes is that the mayor doesn’t adjust his own salary the council does.

I asked, could those who bent the mayor’s ear by chance have misinterpreted Chang? Coppola said several people called him during the campaign, and the message was similar enough to convince him that Chang had been using the mayoral salary issue as a political wedge.

Chang today said he he knows full well how the process works and would not have made such a statement. He has always supported the idea of a full-time mayor, he said. But he has always felt the matter should be put to a vote of city residents (as does Fred Olin). Chang said he probably did agree to the concept of a full-time mayor in the September work study session Coppola mentions, but it’s also true he voted against two ordinances related to the mayor’s salary when they came before the council.

“I don’t think I’ve ever made it (the salary issue) personal about the mayor,” said Chang, who hopes he and Coppola can resume the “productive” working relationship they had before the election.

Coppola, too, said election-related prickliness won’t change dynamics on the council. When the dust settles, it will be business as usual.

On the topic of endorsements, I asked Coppola if, in endorsing Powers, he didn’t worry she, too, would be harmed by the “negativity” he feared would harm Igloi-Matsuno’s campaign. He didn’t.

“Carolyn is not a political neophyte. Amy was,” he said.
“I wanted her to win if she was going to win on her own terms.”

Read the entry online.

Port Orchard Council Votes Down Small Property-Tax Hike

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

By Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun
Posted November 11, 2009 at 8:08 p.m.

PORT ORCHARD — Due to a recent population spike, the city of Port Orchard must operate under new rules in preparing its 2010 budget.

That posed a dilemma for at least two freshman city council members who campaigned on pledges not to increase taxes without a citywide vote.

The city council on Tuesday voted down an ordinance that would have increased the city’s total property tax collection to 101 percent of what it collected in 2009.

The tax hike would have cost property owners less than a penny per $1,000 of assessed value, or $3 per year on a $300,000 home.

Councilmen Jerry Childs and Jim Colebank said they opposed the ordinance as a matter of principle, even though the increase seems small. Fred Olin and Fred Chang also voted against the measure.

Read the complete article online.

Mayor: Council’s veto of tax increase ‘an educational issue.’

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

By CHARLIE BERMANT
Port Orchard Independent Staff Writer
Nov 11 2009, 1:52 PM · UPDATED

The Port Orchard City Council voted down a resolution on Tuesday night that would allow property tax rates to be raised, even though the money collected would be around the same.

“When I was running for office two years ago, I promised that I would not favor a tax increase without voter approval,” said City Councilman Jim Colebank. “I think to approve that, even though it is an insignificant amount, would be a betrayal of that trust.”

The resolution had the support of Mayor Lary Coppola, who worked with City Treasurer Allen Martin in its development, projecting an increase in sales tax from the annexation of Fred Meyer along with a decrease in property taxes due to a lower assessment.

The resolution is designed to allow the city to operate at its current levels during the next budget cycle.

After the meeting Coppola called the council’s failure to pass the measure “an educational issue, because they didn’t know what they were voting against.”

Class was to start this week, as Coppola first demanded that the our council members who voted against the resolution — Colebank, Fred Chang, Jerry Childs and Fred Olin — attend a previously scheduled meeting of the Finance Committee at 7:30 Friday morning. At that time, Coppola was going to get those council members to “tell us which services to cut and which employees we will need to lay off.”

And even though the mayor works for the council, Coppola said that it was “mandatory” they all attend.

Of the four, Chang said he would try to attend the meeting if he could get off work. Colebank and Childs said they would not attend but requested that the matter be put on the Nov. 18 work study agenda, which would allow public input. Olin said that he (Olin) “was not interested in anything you have to say and will not change my position” before hanging up on the mayor, according to Coppola.

As a result Coppola softened his position, and was scheduled to meet with Chang, Childs and Colebank Thursday, along with Martin, to explain the increase and why it is necessary.

Martin said the resolution could raise tax rates approximately $1 per $100,000 of property value, but that the taxes collected would be about the same due to a decrease in assessed property value.

Martin said if the rate increase was not approved, it would cause a $16,000 revenue shortfall that would have to be made up from other departments.

During the original vote, council members John Clauson, Rob Putaansuu and Carolyn Powers voted in favor of the resolution. All three are members of the Finance Committee and has studied the issue in greater detail, according to Coppola.

Childs said that he made the same promise as Colbank before he was elected, and realized that it might be necessary to break such a pledge in an emergency situation, Even so, he was voting against the resolution because he “didn’t want to be selling out this promise for such a small amount.”

Each council member addressed the matter individually, and by the time Childs spoke it was clear the resolution would not pass.

Powers also acknowledged a reluctance to raise taxes, but stated she would support the measure.

She then asked Childs if he “would be willing to sell out for a larger amount.”

Putaansuu said he was supporting the resolution because it would allow the city to maintain its current services without a significant tax increase.

Coppola said the regularly scheduled meeting of the Finance Committee would take place on Friday, but that it would be a work session that will use information from Thursday’s meeting in order to balance the budget.

Port Orchard Independent Staff Writer Charlie Bermant can be reached at cbermant@portorchardindependent.com or (360) 876-4414.

Read the online version.

Incumbent Chang Maintaining Strong Lead Over Igloi-Matsuno

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

By Chris Henry (Contact)
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PORT ORCHARD —

Incumbent city councilman Fred Chang will get a second term.

Chang was leading challenger Amy Igloi-Matsuno in the race for Position 6, with 54.57 percent of the vote and 1,818 votes counted on Tuesday.

“I’d say that I’m stunned,” said Chang, 50, a public information officer for the state’s Department of Transportation.

Igloi-Matsuno, 28, is a Port Orchard restaurant owner whose campaign spending, at just more than $18,000, was double that of Chang’s. Despite the wide margin, she was not conceding.

“I’ll see what the results show tomorrow at 5 p.m.,” she said.

Chang, who won his first race for city council in 2005 with a handy 59 percent, said he wasn’t counting on anything in his campaign against Igloi-Matsuno. Demographics change greatly over four years, he said, and the influx of voters to the newly annexed McCormick Woods was a wild card.

During the campaign, Igloi-Matsuno criticized Chang’s penchant for asking probing questions, saying it created an “obstacle” on the council. Chang said he felt affirmed by election results to continue in his watchdog role.

“I felt I have an inclination to want people to know what’s going on,” Chang said. “I heard from people that they like that.”

Chang said in his second term he will work to improve communication through the city’s Web site.

Read the complete article online.

Kitsap Sun Blog: Speaking of South Kitsap

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Lucarelli-Powers Race Too Close to Call
November 3rd, 2009 by chris henry

Incumbent Fred Chang is beating challenger Amy Igloi-Matsuno, despite her heavy investment in the campaign. Igloi-Matsuno spent $18,662 to Chang’s $9,212, for a total of more than $27,000. I’d say it’s safe to say that’s a record for campaign spending in a Port Orchard council race. In unofficial results, Chang had 54.57 percent of votes counted to Igloi-Matsuno’s 45.10 percent.

Read complete post online.

Chang leads Igloi-Matsuno, Powers edging Lucarelli

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

By CHARLIE BERMANT
Port Orchard Independent Staff Writer
Today, 9:13 PM · UPDATED

Incumbent Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang is leading challenger Amy Igloi-Matsuno 54 percent to 45 percent, according to the initial vote count Tuesday night. In the only other contested race incumbent Carolyn Powers has 50.35 percent, just edging Cindy Lucarelli, with 49.01 percent.

Approximately 2400 votes were collected as of Tuesday afternoon, with 1,818 votes included in the first count. Chang’s lead—172 votes—does not seem insurmountable, but the nine-point spread is unlikely to reverse.

In a speech to supporters after the results were announced, Igloi-Matsuno did not concede the election, but said she was “hoping for the best.

“Nothing has changed for me,” she said. “I still love Port Orchard, and believe in its potential. I will still be working on behalf of small business, and I will still go to Olympia in support of those issues.”

Chang said he was “astounded and pleasantly surprised” by the vote, saying that expected to win but not by such a wide margin.

“I had a lot of good conversations with people during the campaign,” he said. “I didn’t know just how many. I felt that I had strong support, but I didn’t know how widespread it was.”

In the Position 2 race, incumbent Carolyn Powers is leading challenger Cindy Lucarelli by just 23 votes. This is the second consecutive election where Lucarelli has come close to unseating a veteran incumbent, and it is possible she may pull it off this time.

The next ballot numbers will be posted at 5 p.m. Wednesday at www.kitsapgov.com.

Port Orchard Independent Staff Writer Charlie Bermant can be reached at cbermant@portorchardindependent.com or (360) 876-4414.

Read the article online.

Annexations in 2009 Will Impact Port Orchard’s 2010 Budget

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

By Chris Henry (Contact)
Saturday, October 31, 2009

PORT ORCHARD —

[URL]Annexations to the city of Port Orchard in 2009 have added more than 2,000 residents to the city’s population and pushed its total assessed valuation above $1 billion.

The city council will need to consider the effects of annexation in planning its 2010 budget, treasurer Allan Martin said last week.

The shrinking economy plus the increase in population from the McCormick Woods annexation mean the council would have to approve an ordinance showing “substantial need” to achieve the 1 percent increase in property tax revenue it has automatically been eligible to take in the past. The council will consider the ordinance on Nov. 10.

Before the annexation, the city’s population was 8,420. Now, it’s 10,836.

Cities with fewer than 10,000 people can collect up to 101 percent of the previous year’s amount, plus new construction.

Cities with more than 10,000 people are subject to the lesser of two limits: 101 percent of the previous year’s collection or 100 percent plus inflation. Thanks to the recession, inflation declined over the past 12 months by .848 percent. That means, without an ordinance, the city in 2010 could collect 99.2 percent of the $1,633,307 in property taxes it collected in 2009. With an ordinance, it could take in up to an additional $16,333. The one percent increase in 2009 totaled $15,437.

Martin estimates the one percent increase for 2010 would cost the average property owner less than a penny per $1,000 of assessed property value.

At a public hearing Oct. 27, City Councilman Fred Chang asked if the ordinance could be crafted so that the city’s property tax revenue would remain flat for 2010. The answer, said City Attorney Greg Jacoby, is yes.

Including annexations, including McCormick Woods and the Fred Meyer complex on Bethel Road, the assessed value of the city rose from $833 million in 2009 to $1.167 billion.

Read the complete article online.