Port Angeles City Council hopefuls Kate Dexter and Travis Berglund answer questions during a Port Angeles Business Association forum Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Council hopefuls talk taxes at Port Angeles Position 4 forum

PORT ANGELES — Two Port Angeles City Council hopefuls answered questions with little difficulty and shared many of the same views during a Port Angeles Business Association candidate forum Tuesday.

Position 4 candidates Kate Dexter and Travis Berglund will vie in the Nov. 7 general election.

Where Dexter and Berglund differed most — though not by much — was their willingness to impose new taxes.

Both said they were supportive of the sales tax voters overwhelmingly approved earlier this month but varied in how they would approach new taxes.

Dexter was more willing to impose new taxes, though she said the city needs to first look closely at its budget and for other sources of funding. Berglund stood more firmly against new taxes.

“My instinct is to vote against tax increases,” said Berglund, a financial adviser. “There are instances where I would support tax increase.”

He said a future tax he knows he would support is a school bond. Though the city doesn’t approve school bonds, he said the city should show support.

“That is one place where I break,” he said. “Children and our youth are one of the most important places to invest our money.”

Dexter, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, said that before considering new taxes, the city needs to look internally at the current budget.

“I don’t think we should just raise taxes on people without being diligent in the process,” she said. “I don’t think my being in favor of the Transportation Benefit District sales tax is an indication we should just willy-nilly raise taxes.”

Dexter, who said the city is already good at tapping into federal and state money for projects, said a sales tax increase isn’t always the best option but called it a reasonable tax to fix Port Angeles’ roads.

She said there’s almost always an opportunity for outside funds, but sometimes additional taxes are necessary.

“I’m not opposed to the potential of increasing taxes in some way,” she said.

Berglund said he hears often from residents who say the city is already unaffordable, which would factor into his decisions regarding taxes.

He said the city should look at paying down its debt and not incurring more debt to free up funds.

“I hope to be part of a city council that’s proactive and a city council that can avoid tax increases where possible,” he said.

Ballots for the Nov. 7 election will be mailed to voters Oct. 18.

The Port Angeles City Council will have four new council members after the only incumbent, Lee Whetham, was ousted in the Aug. 1 primary election.

Candidates for Position 3, Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin and Artur Wojnowski, will face off in a Port Angeles Business Association forum at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Joshua’s Restaurant & Lounge, 113 S. DelGuzzi Drive, Port Angeles.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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