FERNDALE - City leaders are talking about raising the property tax - possibly more than 1 percent - to pay for a new police officer in 2013.
A City Council member also has revived the idea of a 1-cent tax on gasoline to restore Ferndale's road maintenance fund.
Both taxes are likely to be discussed at the Monday, Nov. 5, council meeting.
The council will hold a public hearing on the property tax levy, which state law limits to an increase of 1 percent a year. Cities can raise the tax by more than 1 percent if it deferred the increase in previous years. Ferndale has that "banked capacity" to raise the property tax by 6 percent in 2013.
The council has not discussed a specific increase, but a 4 percent tax hike would fund almost the entire cost of a new police officer, said city Administrator Greg Young.
The city could also pay for the officer with a 2 percent property tax increase and a half-percent increase on the solid-waste tax, he said.
The Police Department added two officers recently but is still one short of full staffing for a city of Ferndale's size, Mayor Gary Jensen said.
The tax hike would increase the total amount collected by the city, which is $2.16 million in 2012. How that affects an individual property owner is complicated. It depends on how that taxpayer's property value changes relative to other property owners in the city.
Council decided not to ask voters to approve a gas tax in July 2011, but council member Keith Olson, who was not on the council at the time, said he hears a lot of complaints about the bad condition of city streets.
After the recession and resulting downturn in tax revenue, the city has not been paying into its road or sidewalk maintenance programs. A penny-a-gallon gas tax would raise $50,000 to $100,000 a year for those funds, according to city estimates.
Olson said he would like to see the gas tax on the city ballot as early as February.
"If (residents) are that serious about wanting to get them fixed, here's an idea," Olson said. "Throw it out there, and if you believe in that, vote for it. And if you don't, then don't."
Council members are also expected to discuss funding of nonprofits at Monday's meeting. The city received requests for funding totaling $31,150 for next year. Staff recommended committing $13,050 to Ferndale Food Bank, Northwest Youth Services, Ferndale's senior center, and domestic violence services.
Their discussions begin at a study session at 5 p.m. Monday at 5694 Second Ave. The regular meeting, which will include the public hearing on the property tax, starts at 6 p.m.