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  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:33am

County taxes

Limitations on increases are needed

There they go again. The Snohomish County assessors have gotten out of control again.

This year they raised the “land” component of the assessment by 40 percent since last year. Combined with the “building” component, that resulted in an increase in property assessment of 23 percent in one year.

Since 2004 they have increased our land assessment 66 percent, or 16-1/2 percent annually. Our annual taxes in the last 10 years have increased 60 percent – 6 percent a year.

The increased value in assessment provides no benefit to the taxpayer until you sell your house and move away. However, property tax increases of 6 percent annually is real money whether you are still working or are retired.

In Florida, they have a law which limits the increase in assessment in one year to 3 percent even though the market value increase can be higher. The property tax increase correlates to the limit on the assessed value increase. The limitation is available only to “homesteaded” residents – legal residents of the state of any age.

It seems Washington state residents need to start collecting signatures for an initiative to limit the annual increase in property taxes.




City choosing to deny mistakes with dog

The letter in the May 26 issue defending Edmonds’ euthanasia of its police dog, Nico, in 2003, contains some illogical statements.

First, the writer claimed the city uses a “lengthy” and comprehensive process in selecting police dogs, implying that this effectively screens out inappropriate temperaments. If that is true, then how did Nico, who clearly had trouble turning off attack mode on cue, end up on the force?

Second, the writer claimed that Nico was treated “like [a] member of the family.” I hardly think a member of the family would have been put down for a behavioral problem. Nico’s difficulties were apparent by 2001 and why he wasn’t retired early and found an alternative home at that time is troubling. In fact, after ignoring the problem for too long, Nico’s euthanasia seemed more like a hasty, liability damage control measure than anything else.

If the city chooses to deny that serious mistakes were made in handling Nico, it will be doomed to repeat those mistakes. I, for one, don’t want to see that happen.



Development causing more wild encounters

A cougar was spotted in the woods near our home. My first concern was for my children. Since neighborhood kids congregate in our home, I asked the older kids to research cougar encounters and held a cougar seminar.

A cougar encounter is highly unlikely according to the research on the Internet. Cougars hunt at night and want nothing to do with humans. Our children are safer walking through the woods to school than riding buckled up in cars with airbags.

Wild animal sightings are on the rise because habitat is being cleared to make room for dense developments of large homes. Zoning laws make it easier and less expensive to tear down mature forest than redevelop current building sites.

In Edmonds the Planned Residential Development (PRD) ordinance makes the elimination of habitat easier. The city grants exceptions so developers can build on steep slopes, deep ravines, or near wetlands. The considerations given to developers are traded for a public benefit. About 40 PRD’s have been approved in Edmonds. Can anybody explain to me the public benefit of eliminating natural habitats on steep slopes, deep ravines, or near wetlands?

Edmonds makes it difficult to redevelop existing building sites. In downtown there has been a moratorium on building anything over 25 feet tall for two years. In other parts of the city zoning is so out of date it still considers strip malls as modern development. Developers are law-abiding citizens. They build what, where, and how the regulations say they must. They won’t risk their money if they can’t make a profit. Would you?

The cougar’s habitat is dwindling because it is more profitable for developers to cut down trees than redevelop old building sites. Our cougar needs a lawyer.




Test does not foretell future success

Carrie McAffee, in her recent letter, asked, “If you fail the 10th grade WASL do you really think you will get into a college?”

My answer to her is, yes. My son failed the WASL in 2002. He is now in college earning good grades while some of his peers that passed the WASL are struggling. The WASL is not a test for college readiness and the integrated math that is taught to students to prepare for the WASL does not prepare them for the higher math skills that are needed.

College-bound students should focus on the SAT and we should toss integrated math. Parents should be fighting for the removal of WASL information on transcripts. Remember, private school and home school students will not have WASL information on their transcripts, so it gives public school students a disadvantage.

We need to be careful how much emphasis we put on the WASL as it may not be all it is cracked up to be.



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