Woodway’s bond to buy convent failing

WOODWAY — Voters appear ready to tax themselves more to keep this town from dipping into its savings.

They’re not quite ready, however, to say yes to a $6.1 million bond measure that would have allowed the town to buy a 15-acre Dominican convent for use as a combination town hall, community center and environmental education center.

In early election returns Tuesday, the bond measure was headed for defeat. Only 36 percent had voted in favor with results so far. The measure needed at least 60 percent of the votes to pass.

The bond would have cost an average homeowner $650 a year in additional property taxes and allowed the city to finance bond sales to purchase the Rosary Heights estate for $5.9 million. The convent, occupied for 53 years by nuns, was assessed at $8 million.

“I felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Mayor Carla Nichols. “But that’s my opinion and everybody has a say in this.”

Voters were more receptive to an operations levy that would increase property taxes 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $650 annually for the average Woodway home, which is valued at $1.3 million.

The town’s revenue is dependent on property taxes because there are no businesses in the city to provide sales tax revenue.

Woodway’s fire and employee benefit expenses are rising, Nichols said. At the same time, state law forbids property tax revenue from growing faster than 1 percent a year without voter approval.

Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429, ohalpert@heraldnet.com.

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