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WILL GOLD BAR'S TAX LEVY FAILURE SPELL DOOM FOR THE TOWN?
November 09, 2012
Editor's note: this story was originally published in our Breaking News column on front page 11/9/12.
Welcome to Gold Bar sign just off U.S. Highway 2 near city hall. Sky Valley Chronicle photo.
(GOLD BAR, WA) -- This Tuesday’s election has brought tiny Gold Bar, just east of Monroe in the Sky Valley to a tipping point; where to go next.
In July residents met at a packed town council meeting to tell their leaders they did not want to disincorporate the town due to massive legal bills brought on by mainly two to three residents constantly suing the city over public records requests.
At that time the city decided not to put a disincorporation option on the ballot in this week’s election but to move ahead with an excess tax levy to deal with all the legal bills which Gold Bar Mayor Beavers says are the result of bad blood and lawsuits filed primarily by one woman, and public records requests filed by just a few people, that followed Crystal Hill’s contentious time as mayor in Gold Bar.
Hill hasn’t been there since 2009 but Beavers says the problems that arose from Hill having clashes with a newly arrived east coast transplant took on a life of its own and grew out of control to virtually swamp the city over the past several years.
“The resolution to put disincorporation on the ballot came up and after discussion by the council and after listening to all the citizen comments it failed on a 4-1 vote,”said Beavers at the time.
And then the excess tax levy came up. It was discussed by residents, “And people were saying for eleven bucks a month I’m not gonna lose the city and it passed 5-0,” added the Mayor.
So this past Tuesday Gold Bar residents voted on whether to tax themselves a bit more to keep the city running and they said no.
The yeses to the tax levy question totaled 181 votes (41.4%) and the no’s had 259 votes (58.8%).
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN
“The citizens have spoken, “said Beavers in an interview Wednesday with the Sky Valley Chronicle. “We said we need this (the temporary tax) to continue operations of the city…they (the voters) refused to put the extra money up for that."
So what happens now?
“The first thing we have to do is come up with an income statement for 2013. We have one already based on the assumption the levy would pass. Now that it didn’t pass we will just re-adjust the income statement and once we do that then we start on expenditures and look to maintain expenditures less than income,” said Beavers.
He also says he doesn’t know yet what the odds are of being able to come up with a solution to keep the town funded properly or, in a worst case scenario, seek disincorporation of the town which he says would be faster and cheaper than bankruptcy as far as they can tell.
On November 20th the Gold Bar town council will start taking up the challenge of how to fund the town now that the levy has failed.
Budget talks for the 2013 budget will last through November and December. It takes six or so council meetings to set a budget, says Beavers.
But by the end of December a budget will need to be in place and residents of Gold Bar may have some indication of their future as a town or as a part of unincorporated Snohomish County once again.
Had it passed the temporary levy would have cost the average homeowner in Gold Bar about $10.83 a month or $130 a year on their property tax bills.
Since the average city property tax for a home in Gold Bar is about $200 a year, the excess levy would take that figure up to about $330 a year.