Jefferson County approves tax increases for three funds

PORT TOWNSEND — The three Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to approve eight resolutions that allow for property tax rate increases in 2017 for three county funds that were deemed in need.

The county’s general fund, road fund and conservation futures fund were designated as in need of these rate increases by the county assessors office, according to County Administrator Philip Morley. All eight resolutions needed to increase the tax rates for these funds were approved unanimously after a public hearing.

Both the general fund levy and road levy were approved for 1 percent increases in 2017.

This will increase the general fund by $76,310 for a total of $7.7 million for 2017.

The road levy will see an increase by $42,691 for a total of $4.3 million. The general fund levy encompasses the veterans relief fund, mental health fund and developmental disabilities fund — so all those levies will see a part of the tax increase.

The county also approved a measure that would divide the road tax levy collected in 2017. Out of the collections, $720,000 will go to the current expense fund, with the remainder going to the county road fund.

The commission discussed earlier in the month sending some money to the Sheriff’s Department to help with traffic enforcement but they decided against it.

“An impact on public safety would be good too if we went that direction,” said Commissioner David Sullivan.

“However we’re in a bit of a rock and a hard place.”

The council voted to declare a financial emergency for the conservation futures fund.

This allowed them to approve a levy increase of $7,268 — or 3.25 percent over last year, for a total of $231,000.

The 3.25 percent increase is a combination of the 1 percent increase approved by adopting the limit factor based on financial need and a 2.25 percent increase from banked capacity, allowed due to the fund’s financial emergency, according to the resolution documents from Monday’s meeting.

“For the record, I want to say that we don’t take lightly the use of the word ‘emergency,’ ” said Commissioner Kathleen Kler.

State law requires that the commission hold a public hearing on these issues annually, before deciding the next year’s rates.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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