PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize 1 percent increases for the general fund, road fund and conservation futures fund levies for 2018 and approved $720,000 to be diverted from the road fund to the general fund to pay for traffic law enforcement in 2018.
All three levies funds received the maximum increase allowed by the state of 1 percent.
The general fund, which in 2017 collected $7,779,657, will see a 1 percent increase which will add $77,796, bringing the total tax revenue before new construction to $7,857,453 for 2018.
The road fund also will see a 1 percent increase from the $4,349,423 in property tax revenue from 2017. In 2018, property tax revenue will be $4,392,918.
The commissioners also approved $720,000 be diverted from the road fund to the general fund to pay for such traffic law enforcement expenses as wreck investigations, which can be costly, according to Jefferson County administrator Philip Morley.
“That is allowed by state law,” Morley said.
The move will bring the general fund to $8,577,453 for 2018 and cut the road fund to $3,672,918.
Commissioner Kathleen Kler directed staff to develop a memorandum of understanding to track how the $720,000 is spent and ensure it all goes to its intended purpose of traffic law enforcement.
John Thiersch, one of two community members who attended the Monday morning public hearing, said commissioners should note that $720,000 could help the Sheriff’s Office pay for new deputies that the department has requested.
Thiersch also said the county needs to do a better job of finding and taxing unpermitted construction in the county.
“There’s a lot of unpermitted construction going on,” Thiersch said. “There’s a lot of missed revenue here. You should get those people to pay so you don’t have to raise my taxes so much.”
According to Thiersch, he had raised this issue with both the County Department of Community Development and the Assessor’s Office and got unsatisfactory answers.
“There’s a gap in communication between the DCD and Assessor’s Office about unpermitted new construction,” Thiersch said. “Note that this was under past department heads.”
Morley reached out to the DCD regarding the communication between the DCD and Assessors Office. According to Morley, the DCD responded that all building permits are sent from the DCD to the Assessor’s Office on a monthly basis. The conservation futures fund saw $233,270 in property tax revenue in 2017. The increase means a property tax revenue of $235,603 for 2018 before new construction.