Clark County doesn’t “need” to raise taxes

December 7, 2022by John Ley0

The Clark County Council is considering County Manager Kathleen Otto’s recommended 2023 budget. Included in that recommendation are several tax increases. The approved budget includes a 1% and banked capacity increase for the General Fund, Metropolitan Parks District (MPD) Parks Fund and Road Fund tax levies

Yet the Manager’s own budget proposal shows the tax increases are not needed at this time.

My remarks to the Council on Monday, Dec. 6th asking them NOT to raise taxes.

Here is the graphic showing the increase in County reserve funds for the next 3 years, without raising taxes.

The cash reserves go from $74 million to $79.9 million. Furthermore, they don’t have a “revenue problem”, they have a spending problem. Projected spending goes from $177.5 million to $214.3 million in 2028, a 20.7% increase in 6 years.

Here is the text of my planned remarks to the council.

John Ley, 3-decade Clark County resident.

I came today to say “thank you, to Councilor Dick Rylander for his faithful service. He made a significant impact in his very first meeting and has provided incredibly hard work on a host of important issues, including Oregon’s outrageous TOLLING scheme.

But today I must speak out AGAINST the plan to raise taxes on Clark County residents by more than 1 percent. We are on the verge of a recession. Citizens are experiencing the highest inflation seen in several decades. In January, the state of Washington will raise energy prices via a carbon tax. Gas prices will go up 46 cents a gallon, and diesel fuel will go up 56 cents a gallon. That will raise prices on groceries and everything delivered to our local stores.

The council was shown that the county reserve fund balance would INCREASE for the next 3 years, WITHOUT raising taxes!  There is no need to raise taxes at this time.

The council has received extremely in depth briefings from county agencies on their budgetary needs for the past 2 to 3 months. All this was preparation to help you make an informed decision on the 2023 budget.  

I am extremely troubled by what happened last week, as Councilor Rylander was told “you’re done!” by the Council’s attorney, and a new councilor was supposedly sworn in behind the scenes, without the public being allowed to witness or participate. 

The citizens of Clark County expect their County Council to make INFORMED decisions on how their tax dollars will be spent. Sadly, it would appear that one member of the council did not participate in all those previous briefings, and is therefore uninformed on the specific details of the decisions to be made.

The staff reported that the county cash reserve fund will increase by $5 million over the next 3 years WITHOUT raising taxes.

If you truly care about the poor, if you truly care about hard working low income families, if you truly want to help the people you are supposed to represent, then REJECT the proposed tax increases.

The people are facing possible “death by a thousand cuts!”  The cities are raising taxes. The state is raising taxes. Groceries are going up by double digits. Gas and energy prices will be going up by double digits. Don’t be one more of those thousand cuts!

You can pay the bills just fine for the next 3 years. Furthermore, you can “bank” the bypassed 1 percent increase, “just in case” it is truly needed at some point in the future. Just say NO to the tax increase!


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