Gold Bar to stay a city, put tax hike on ballot

GOLD BAR — The financially-strapped city of Gold Bar won’t place on the ballot a measure to disband.

The council voted 4-1 on Tuesday night against such a move.

Instead, the council decided to ask voters if they are willing to back a tax levy that would help pay legal costs to defend the city from lawsuits related to serial public records requests. Such a measure would appear on the November ballot.

About 30 people from Gold Bar were on hand Tuesday evening to share their thoughts about whether to disincorporate the century-old city.

Contentious disputes over the city’s handling of records have created a clamor out of proportion with this diminutive Skykomish Valley city of about 2,000 souls.

The cost to defend the city in those cases may approach $100,000 this year, city staff have estimated. That’s about one-sixth of Gold Bar’s entire operating budget.

Mayor Joe Beavers said the way the state public records act now is enforced can bankrupt small cities.

The city on Tuesday considered two resolutions.

The first was to authorize a ballot measure raising property taxes by $1 per $1,000 in assessed value in 2013. That would generate an estimated $113,000 to cover legal costs.

The second was to authorize the city to disincorporate and be absorbed by Snohomish County once all assets and liabilities have been processed by an appointed receiver.

If the city disincorporated, it would have been the first time in 40 years that has happened in Washington. The last time was when the community of Westlake, near Moses Lake, went by the legal wayside in 1972.

Snohomish County staff had begun to explore the impacts to the county if Gold Bar disincorporated, Deputy County Executive Gary Haakenson said. It would mainly involve the county taking over road maintenance. The impact to the average taxpayer would likely be negligible.

If it disincorporated, Gold Bar would have been similar to local communities such as Silvana and Startup that are well-established, but lack a municipal government.

The biggest impact to the county at large, Haakenson said, likely would be lost revenue for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which currently polices the city through a contract.

The general election is Nov. 6. The deadline for the city to submit the ballot measures to the Snohomish County Auditor is Aug. 7.

“The election is not until November,” Beavers wrote in an email. “Maybe something will happen between then and now. Maybe a retired Microsoft executive will write a big check. Any other ideas?”

Eric Stevick contributed to this story.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Harry Lee Jones Jr.
Man gets 31½ years for shooting Everett motel guest 12 times

Harry Lee Jones Jr., 27, beat and then shot a Farwest Motel guest in 2018 while two accomplices looted his room.

Pallet communities are groups of tiny homes for unhoused people. Here, a worker installs weatherstripping on a pallet shelter at Pallet in Everett in January 2020. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Tiny home community is proposed at a Marysville church

The Pallet shelter community would provide transitional housing to eight people. Neighbors have questions.

With credit scores out, will insurers cut or hike your rate?

Lack of affordable housing squeezed buyers and drove up home prices across Snohomish County.

Photo courtesy Laura Thompson 

Madison Thompson and her dog Stella.
Whidbey teen, golden retriever make top 8 in NY kennel show

Madison Thompson was one of the youngest competitors in her division of 80 kids.

Chris Stack and Samantha Soule film a scene of their movie, "Midday Black, Midnight Blue," on the Coupeville wharf June 14. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Indie film crew: Whidbey residents are ‘generous and welcoming’

The movie makers are shooting scenes for a full-length feature at various sites around the island.

Everett's Patrick Hall was among people who put up signs in March to save the Longfellow School building.  He is now part of an advisory task force looking at options for the building, which the Everett School District had planned to tear down.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
National register listing could be next for old Longfellow

But the designation wouldn’t stop the Everett School District from tearing down the former school.

Abigail Cruz was awarded the American Association of University Women Edmonds Sno-King branch's $2,000 scholarship for Edmonds College. (AAUW Edmonds Sno-King)
Edmonds College student wins $2,000 AAUW scholarship

AAUW scholarship for Edmonds College student The Edmonds SnoKing Branch of the… Continue reading

Junelle Lewis becomes emotional while performing a dance with her children during the Justice to Jubilee Juneteenth Celebration at Skykomish River Park on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Justice to Jubilee: ‘No one is free till everyone is free’

People gathered Saturday in a Monroe park to celebrate Juneteenth, a new federal holiday that commemorates the end of slavery.

Galina Volchkova, the Volunteers of America Housing Director, discusses the volume of applications for rental assistance her office received Friday. (Katie Hayes / The Herald) 20210618
7,000 tenants, waiting for help, fear eviction after June 30

Rental assistance money won’t reach many landlords before the coronavirus eviction moratorium expires.

Most Read