Our Voice: Don’t let the words ‘tax’ and ‘increase’ scare you

For the first time in 15 years, Pasco is considering taking the 1 percent increase in property taxes that is allowed by law.

As the city grows, the tax rate falls because there are more homes to bear the overall tax burden. The law allows the city to boost its rate back up by 1 percent each year. Until now, Pasco had declined to do so.

We know the “tax” word is a scary one to many around here, especially when the word “increase” is associated with it.

This year, homeowners paid $1.96 per $1,000 assessed evaluation. The new rate would bring Pasco to $1.95 per assessed value. By comparison, Kennewick is looking at a rate of $2.18 and Richland has plans for $2.61.

So Pasco’s proposed property tax rate is still a lot less than in neighboring cities.

An owner of a $200,000 house in Pasco would see an additional $2 per year on the tax bill if the value of the home stayed the same.

In the grand scheme of things, the tax increase is not substantial. The city would bring in about $65,000 more per year.

As new Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell put it: “The 1 percent doesn’t solve any real problems, but it keeps us from falling 1 percent further behind.”

The proposed budget has the city bringing in a little more than $7 million in property taxes.

The increase is hardly more than a fluctuation on that kind of figure, something political types like to call “budget dust.”

Pasco has seen big growth and that means more revenue is needed to provide services for an ever-expanding population.

Overall, the city budget is proposed at $160.3 million, up from $143.7 in 2014.

The general fund, where the funding for most of the guts of city services comes from, will go from $44.5 million to $51.1 million.

That increase is largely due to an $8 million bond issued for a new police station.

Part of the budget includes raising sewer, storm water and ambulance fees.

No other city in the region has experienced the kind of explosive population growth that Pasco has in recent years. It makes sense that they need more folks to provide core services as the number of citizens has increased.

And it makes sense that the city needs more from its property tax base to help cover costs.

Granted, the $65,000 is not going to get the city what it needs to fund the services it needs but it will put it on a path forward.

Fifteen years is far too many to wait when you consider the population doubled in that time frame.