Frankly, a new property tax in this economy seems unwise -- a kind term. For those of us who have been able to keep our homes, it seems we would be penalized for being fiscally conservative.
Sheri and I have provided affordable housing to local folks for 25 years. We owned a rooming house on Indian Street near the university. We have sold it to retire. About half of our tenants were students, the rest were folks who could not afford to get their own apartment. The proposed tax is a slap in renter's face. Our property was already highly taxed because of its location. The proposed tax would have cost us over $300 per year for that property alone. The rents would have had to increase. How does that help affordable housing?
We have a suggestion. In our various negotiations, we have found that things go best when both sides have some skin on the table. Say that the Bellingham Home Fund would go out and raise $5 million, then ask taxpayers to match that. Then, we would be very comfortable with a tax increase for this cause.
There will always be more good causes that there is revenue to help. It's scriptural that there will always be the poor. But it's poor policy to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I'll paraphrase Maggy Thatcher: The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples' money. (Think Greece.)
We hope that Greg Winter will read this and think about the equal sharing idea.
Frank and Sheri Ward