By KATHY KORENGEL
LAKE STEVENS — City council members have decided to roll back a proposed property tax levy increase next year from 6 percent to 2 percent, at least partly in response to voter approval of Initiative 722.
"I believe the major reason given was we were listening to the people (in Lake Stevens) who voted 58 percent for I-722," said Gen Moore, a longtime city council member. "They were telling us they didn’t want a tax increase, and we were trying to listen to them."
Initiative 722, approved in November, set a 2 percent cap on property tax levy increases.
The city council unanimously approved the amended tax increase Monday. They also approved the proposed 2001 budget.
Council members Rich Estep and Glenn McLoughlin voted against the proposed budget, mainly because of concerns over cutbacks in police services.
The tax rollback amounted to about $30,000 from the proposed $6.7 million budget.
City Administrator Dave O’Leary said that the "average person is not going to notice the difference" from the cutbacks.
He said the cuts were made up largely through budget carryovers, meaning that projects budgeted for completion this year would be finished next year instead.
That includes $21,000 in parks maintenance and up to $4,200 in street maintenance work.
In addition, the city cut $5,000 from police services, reducing overtime pay and jail services.
Those cuts prompted Estep to vote against the budget.
"Police services were not the right area for us to take from," Estep said, particularly since crime has been on the rise in recent years.
He also said he wanted more guarantees that, should the need for police services rise more than expected, the budget could handle it.
O’Leary said that the approved budget still includes funding for a new police sergeant, additional staffing for the front desk at city hall and new radios for police cars.
"We were able to save those," O’Leary said.
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