A Year Reviewed for a Municipality

July 22nd, 2013 by admin

LFP plans limited test of cottage housing

Lake Forest Park’s planning commission is considering an ordinance that would temporarily allow as many as two cottage housing developments in the city. An informational meeting for the community was held on Feb. 13, to provide residents with an opportunity to review and comment on a draft ordinance.

If approved, the ordinance would permit the city to test cottage housing on a limited basis. The ordinance stipulates a maximum of 12 cottages per development.

Proposed zoning changes may allow 12-story building

Developer George Choi wants to build a 12-story building on Aurora Avenue North. Due to a proposal for form-based code and zoning changes at the South Aurora Triangle, where Choi’s property is located, he could be in luck.

The Shoreline City Council approved docketing a staff-initiated amendment for the South Aurora Triangle, which is bound by North 145th Street on the south, Aurora Avenue North on the east and the Interurban Trail on the Northwest.

If approved, form-based code would regulate land use in broad parameters, removing traditional limits on individual unit size and density of residential uses, with design flexibility and variety from parcel to parcel, according to city documents.

Gambling tax reduction questioned

An ordinance proposed by Mayor Bob Ransom that asks for a two-month extension of the city’s gambling tax reduction lacked Council support at the Tuesday, Feb. 20, business meeting.

The decision in July 2006 to temporarily reduce the gambling tax from 10 percent to 7 percent for a nine-month period was largely based on the impact of Aurora Corridor construction on casinos.

City staff’s recommendation did not support a continued gambling tax reduction. Staff contend factors other than the gambling tax are contributing to area casinos’ financial pressures including the smoking ban, competition from tribal casinos and online betting.

Budget gaps projected for city

About 30 residents attended a two-hour forum on Friday evening, Feb. 24, to learn more about projected budget gaps for the city of Shoreline.

The six-year operating budget financial forecast shows an anticipated 2008 budget gap of $762,000 and a 2009 budget gap of $1.1 million. Future annual budget gaps grow to $3.5 million by 2012.

By state law, the city must adopt a balanced budget. Therefore, even though forecasts project budget deficits, changes must be made in order to maintain a balanced budget.

The city’s budget policies require that ongoing expenditures be balanced with ongoing revenues. And although the city has $9.6 million in reserves, the funding can’t be used to balance the city’s operating budget in the long term.


Council budget gap deliberations begin

The first public discussion of the Shoreline’s future budget projections was one of the most popular items on the Shoreline City Council’s agenda at the March 5 study session.

City staff have recommended that the council authorize an increase in the cable utility tax rate from 1 percent to 6 percent, as well as authorize the city manager to notify Seattle City Light of the city’s intent to collect a contract fee on the distribution portion of electric revenues collected from Shoreline rate payers.

The primary long-term option recommended by city staff is to pursue a levy lid lift for 2009.

During the six-year period of 2007-2012, operating revenues are projected to grow about 2.3 percent annually while expenditures are projected to grow an average of 4.2 percent annually.

Shoreline CC will downsize soon

Shoreline Community College — hit by declining enrollment, state funding changes and payments on a new student union building — will downsize. This month, it announced staff layoffs and other cuts that aim to save about $1.7 million for the 2007-08 school year, which starts in July.

The college competes with several community colleges packed close together. It’s also feeling the pinch of demographic changes in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, where fewer high school students are emerging from the school system.

Legislators discuss climate, education

Reps. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, and Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, of the 32nd Legislative District informed constituents about the current legislative session at a town meeting March 17 at Lake Forest Park Third Place Commons.

Chase supports a bill that would require that a label be placed on food products using controlled atmosphere packaging. She also announced the possibility of a future guest worker program to combat the projected worker shortage in 2010, and the attention she is giving to the net loss of affordable housing as well as low-income automobile insurance.

Chair of the Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee, Kagi said this year early learning became part of the education picture and a new subcommittee in the House called the Education Appropriation Subcommittee began meeting.

Kagi supports an education plan that would prioritize reducing class sizes by adding over 200 new teachers, fully fund all-day kindergarten, offer additional support for struggling students and provide for math and science initiatives among other things.

Citizens give input on new city hall

The site of the future Shoreline Civic Center/City Hall has been determined, but the early stages of designing the building have only just begun. In a workshop on March 20 at Meridian Park Elementary School, city officials asked citizens for their input about the new facility.

The new City Hall will be built at the site of its original Annex at the intersection of North 175th Street and Midvale Avenue North. The city has purchased the 1.7-acre Highland Plaza site as well as a 1.2-acre site of office and retail buildings located east of the Annex. The site does not include the Grease Monkey on North 175th Street.

The total cost of the project is projected to be close to $25 million. Over a period of time, the city saved $12 million to begin the project and plans to borrow the remaining amount, paying off the debt with an allocation of real estate excise tax and money traditionally used for rent. A property tax increase to finance City Hall will not occur.

Shoreline approves cable utility tax hike

An contentious ordinance to increase the cable utility tax passed 5-2 at the city council meeting March 26.

The cable utility tax raises the tax from 1 to 6 percent with the extra revenue going toward projected budget gaps beginning in 2008. The cable tax ordinance also included a motion authorizing city manager Bob Olander to notify Seattle City Light of the city’s intent to collect a 3 percent contract payment on electrical distribution portions of bills on April 1, 2008, and an additional 3 percent effective on Jan. 1, 2009.


Concerns voiced over development

A second subdivision in Lake Forest Park is several steps closer to being approved by the planning commission but the overall process has not been a simple one.

The site of the new subdivision, Osgood II, is located on the only plat in the city at 19625 and 19633 55th Ave. NE and includes natural vegetation along sloping landscape, the subject of much debate.

Homeowners who live near the plat have brought various concerns to the planning commission through letters, personal meetings with city officials and at a public hearing.

Those concerns included what were allegedly incorrect plat drawings, the number of trees being cut and the size of site buffers, negative impacts believed to be due to the construction of the only current subdivision, Trillium, and concern over whether or not the site itself proposed any steep slope landslide issues.

A geotechnical report completed by Cornerstone Geotechnical Inc. and received by the planning commission in 2006 found the Osgood II plat to be “compatible for the planned use as a residential development” and soils “capable of supporting the planned structures and pavements.”

Board votes to close and move schools

Sunset and North City elementary schools will close this fall, while Room Nine Community School and Home Education Exchange will move to other buildings.

The Shoreline School Board approved the changes at a Monday, April 16, meeting in front of a large crowd of parents, staff, students and others. Altogether, the changes they approved will save about $1.8 million, according to district estimates. About $1.4 million of that is estimated to come from the school closures.

The cuts are meant to help balance the district’s ailing budget. In tandem with reducing the middle school day, approved earlier this spring, the savings is estimated at $2.4 million. The district estimates it will end the year $1.8 million in the red.

Graffiti on the rise in Shoreline

From King County Sheriff master police officer Beth Lavin’s perspective, graffiti vandalism in Shoreline is occurring more frequently. Lavin has taken numerous reports of vandalism, including broken windows and graffiti, since the beginning of the year. She responded to reports of graffiti on the Aurora bridge, City Hall, the Highland Ice Arena and Einstein Middle School all within the past month.

Graffiti on school grounds has also been a rising concern. Three Shorecrest students caught painting graffiti on school property in late February resulted in several thousand dollars and restitution is currently being paid, Marcia Harris, Shoreline School District deputy superintendent said.

A criminal intelligence unit was asked to look at recent graffiti throughout Shoreline and determined that it is not gang-related, said Kent Baxter, operations captain for Shoreline Police Department.

Arson destroys pizza restaurant

Romio’s Pizza and Pasta restaurant on 15th Avenue Northeast in Shoreline was destroyed April 23 in a fire investigators have determined was intentionally set.

The fire began around 2:30 a.m., said Melanie Granfors, Shoreline Fire Department public information officer. When Shoreline fire crews arrived on the scene the building was fully engulfed in flames and smoke was pouring from several areas of the building. It took nearly 90 minutes before the fire was under control and a total of three hours to extinguish it completely

No one was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported. The fire did not cause damage to neighboring businesses or residences but the building and its contents were totally destroyed.

An accelerant spill near an espresso stand located one block from Romio’s was reported at 10 a.m. April 25 and the Shoreline Fire Marshal’s office asked residents and businesses to watch for suspicious activity.


Aurora revamp plan keeps growing

As the first phase of the Aurora Corridor Project between North 145th and North 165th Street nears completion, city officials, business owners and residents are gearing up for the next two miles.

An environmental review by city consultant Jones & Stokes is underway to analyze traffic impacts, land use, air and noise, socio-economics and cultural/historical resources in three design alternatives. Reports by the firm, as well as other technical reports, are expected to be available for review by June before the city council chooses a design alternative for the remaining two miles of the corridor project.

The design alternative process features four options for the remainder of the project. One involves a 98-foot width design from curb to curb, while two others use a 110-foot width design. The fourth option is to do nothing.

Both of the 110-foot width options include design options, such as 7-foot sidewalks, 4-foot vegetated amenity zones between curb and sidewalk, and landscaped medians.

Either of the two 110-foot options most closely resemble the work done so far between North 145th and North 165th Streets.

Students changing schools in fall

Hundreds of elementary school students will attend different schools next year when school boundaries change in the Shoreline School District.

The Shoreline School Board approved a plan at its May 21 meeting that moves more students than other plans would have and buses students across busy North Aurora Avenue. The plan also balances student numbers at schools better than other plans and avoids overcrowding.

Recently, a committee put forth multiple plans to change boundaries in the wake of school closures at Sunset and North City elementaries, and the board chose from among them.

Shoreline keeping an eye on Point Wells

More than 1,000 luxury waterfront condominiums might replace acres of huge petroleum tanks that have stood like sentinels on Puget Sound for nearly a century.

The Snohomish County Council is considering a bid to completely transform Point Wells from a polluted industrial site into an urban housing complex. It is a move that project’s neighbor to the south, Shoreline, is closely watching.

While the Point Wells property owner may choose to be annexed to the town of Woodway, city officials in Shoreline are also staying informed of Point Wells possibilities.

The city of Shoreline still wants to annex the property, Shoreline Mayor Bob Ransom said. He added the city of Shoreline provides the access road to the site but fire and police services are also provided by the city.

Conceptually, as many as 1,400 condominiums would cover 50 acres, according to California-based Paramount Petroleum, the property owner.

High-tech solar house unveiled

A high-tech cottage known as the “Zero Energy House,” was officially unveiled at a ribbon-cutting event May 17 at Shoreline Community College.

The house was designed and built by Washington State University students for a 2006 national competition in Washington, D.C. For the competition, the house had to run a television, washer, dryer, dish washer and support a 20-minute hot shower without an outside power source. With a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom, the house has enough juice left over to power a car.

State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, said during the ceremony that she sees a day when Shoreline and Washington take the lead in the business of renewable and sustainable energy. She noted that the power inverters used in the house, devices that change direct current from the solar cells to alternating current usable in a house, are built in Snohomish County.

Garage sale turns political, nasty

The Richmond Beach neighborhood garage sale on May 19 was attended by Shoreline Police officers — only they weren’t looking to buy.

While handing out a flier about neighborhood bullying, Diane Brennan said she was approached by a man who said, ‘So you’re the cow living at the end of street,’ and ‘If you want bullying I’ll give you bullying.’”

The verbal exchange, according to Brennan, included references to the color and use of property on the 2300 block of Northwest 199th Street owned by Lila Smith, chairwoman of the 32nd Legislative District Democrats.

Smith, a supporter of Shoreline council members Maggie Fimia and Cindy Ryu, was registering people to vote during the garage sale. On the same block, Beth and Doug O’Neill, who filed their own lawsuit against Fimia in November 2006, raised money for a separate lawsuit alleging violations of the state Open Meetings Act against Fimia, Shoreline Mayor Bob Ransom, Councilwoman Janet Way and former Councilman John Chang.

No one was arrested or physically hurt during the garage sale.


County, LFP council debate Burke-Gilman Trail development

The next step in determining whether a Lake Forest Park City Council ordinance violates federal, state and county trail development standards for the Burke-Gilman Trail will be taken by July 23 in the form of a state Growth Management Hearings Board decision.

At a hearing on June 1, Andrew Marcuse, the attorney representing King County, told board members the county wishes to redevelop the approximately two-mile “heavily used” and oldest portion of the trail through Lake Forest Park but is unable to proceed due to ordinance 951 adopted by Lake Forest Park City Council in January.

Jeff Eustis, attorney for Cascade Bicycle Club who is also appealing the ordinance, said the ordinance allows the city to deny or second guess decisions to improve an existing public facility such as the Burke-Gilman Trail and discourages using the existing facility for non-motorized transportation.

According to Lake Forest Park city attorney Michael Ruark, the city has exercised good faith and integrity throughout their decision-making and appeals process.

Judge delays decision on suit against council

Opposing sides of a lawsuit alleging violations of the state’s Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) by one former and three current Shoreline City Council members were at the King County Courthouse on June 4 to present oral arguments before Judge Sharon Armstrong.

In less than one hour, Judge Armstrong ended the hearing by determining more time was needed to review legal authority in the form of past cases for the parties’ position.

The defense maintained that the only evidence of any possible wrongdoing would involve an alleged hallway meeting on December 12, 2005, between councilmembers Maggie Fimia, Bob Ransom and Janet Way, their attorney Mike Bolasina, and former Councilman Scott Jepsen. Defense attorney Steve DiJulio said facts are still contested about whether actual business was discussed and the meeting itself does not serve as a basis for summary judgment.

Staff protests for fully funded COLAs

Teachers, paraeducators and other school staff lined the sidewalks outside Shoreline School District offices Monday, June 18 to protest the district’s reluctance to fully fund cost-of-living-adjustments for next year.

The district is in labor negotiations with the Shoreline Education Association (SEA) and the Shoreline Educational Support Professionals Association (SESPA).

District officials have told both unions to find ways to cut their contracts to fund the parts of the COLA that the state doesn’t fund, union officials said. Doing that could increase class sizes, hurt extra-curricular activities or result in a net loss of the COLA for staff, union officials said.

The general fund is ailing and the district is stretched to fund all COLAs for such a large group of employees, according to district officials.

City looks to future at Aurora celebration

From the base of the stairs leading to the bridge over North 155th Street, Shoreline Mayor Bob Ransom addressed a crowd of residents June 16 at the Aurora Corridor, N. 145th to 165th streets, ribbon-cutting dedication ceremony.

Unveiling a bronze plaque to be a permanent fixture at the site, he listed names of current and former council members, city staff, state representatives and business partners and thanked Shoreline residents on behalf of the city.

During the dedication, Congressman Jay Inslee said he remembered picking blackberries as he campaigned throughout the area in 1998 and was excited to see the cumulation of the first phase of the Aurora Corridor project and the Interurban Bridges.

Mental health programs trumpeted

The standing-room-only audience of more than 400 that spilled out of the Shoreline Conference Center’s Shoreline Room spoke with one voice at the June 25 Metropolitan King County Council Town Hall meeting. Speaker after speaker told councilmembers of a growing need for the county to support programs that divert people suffering from mental illnesses and chemical dependency away from jail cells and into proper treatment facilities.

The Town Hall examined the council’s innovative Mental Illness & Drug Dependency Action Plan. The plan focuses on programs that will keep people out of the criminal justice and emergency medical systems, and outlines multiple strategies for reaching and diverting priority populations, including expanded prevention efforts involving youth.

The public and councilmembers heard from a panel representing the perspectives of clients, providers, and the King County Jail.


Construction starts on YMCA facility

Camp songs, rock-wall climbing and, of course, some digging were all part of the official ground breaking of the new Shoreline/South County YMCA July 17 on North 192nd Street and Aurora Avenue North in Shoreline.

Expected to take about a year to construct, the $19.5 million YMCA will serve three times as many people as the existing facility and create 250 full and part-time jobs. Although falling just shy of a $4.5 million goal for community fund raising with $4.3 million by ground breaking, capital campaign co-chair Stephen Dunn said he is hopeful of reaching $4.7 million before a community fund raising phase begins in two months. A goal of $5.75 million was set as a local community fund raising goal.

While YMCA board members were credited with raising $1 million for the project, state representative Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, reminded those in attendance of $800,000 that was allocated to the Shoreline / South County YMCA in this year’s capital budget.

Fireworks blamed in Richmond Beach fire

The Shoreline Fire Department reported one fireworks related fire incident over the Fourth of July holiday.

An 18-year-old man may be charged with illegal use of fireworks and reckless burning as a result of a small brush fire that occurred in Richmond Beach in the afternoon on July 4.

Shoreline fire crews were responding to an unrelated call in the vicinity of Richmond Beach Saltwater Park off of 20th Avenue Northwest, when they spotted a man running from a small fire. The blaze erupted in some dry grass after a firework exploded. Fire crews moved quickly to extinguish the fire and kept it from becoming a major brush fire.

Hybrid plan OK’d for Aurora Corridor

One week after Shoreline residents voiced their approval of a flexible alternative for the Aurora Corridor, North 165th to North 205th streets, council members unanimously agreed it was the best design option.

The 6-0 vote approved Resolution No. 263, adopting a staff recommended flexible alternative design, also known as the hybrid plan. One of four possible alternative alignments placed before council review, the flexible alternative provides a 110-foot cross section, four-foot amenity zone, seven-foot sidewalk and a 16-foot median.

Residents speak out on council’s legal defense funding

Residents on both sides spoke during public comment at the July 23 council meeting in response to learning the city of Shoreline increased legal funding for defense provided by Foster Pepper PLLC to an amount not to exceed $170,000 for the calendar year.

On July 18, Michael Rasch, a Shoreline attorney who represented plaintiffs Connie King and Kevin Grossman, both former council members, and John D. Hollinrake Jr. requested copies of bills submitted by Foster Pepper for work done on the defendants’ behalf. Although he was aware of a decision made to authorize payments not to exceed $120,000 to Foster Pepper during a council meeting on October 9, 2006, Rasch said he had no knowledge of the increase of defense funding by the city on March 16.

According to city attorney Ian Sievers, a meeting of council members to authorize the additional $50,000 was not necessary for an amendment to be made to the existing contract for services between the city of Shoreline and Foster Pepper.

City effort to control trail thwarted

In a decision announced Wednesday, July 25, the board concluded that LFP’s adoption of the ordinance “is clearly erroneous and fails to comply” with the state Growth Management Act (GMA). The board’s decision remands action back to the city to establish an ordinance that will comply with the state GMA.

Lake Forest Park city officials have not said yet whether they plan to appeal the board’s decision. If the decision to file an appeal is not decided by mid-August, city officials will look at revising the ordinance. The city has until January 2008 to comply with the GMA.

In a city news release July 31, Mayor David Hutchinson again expressed a need for a safe redevelopment of the Burke-Gilman Trail and said that the interests of Lake Forest Park residents will be top priority as options are reviewed.


Fliers urge ouster of Ransom and Fimia

Residents received fliers in their mail early in the week asking to use their vote in the Aug. 21 primary to oust current Shoreline Mayor Bob Ransom and Deputy Mayor Maggie Fimia from their council positions.

The flier depicts outlines of suit-clad individuals and includes the words, ‘Lies’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Secret Meetings’ and a phrase, ‘The Worst of Politics’ on one side. While on the other side, Fimia and Ransom are accused of leading secret meetings, attempting to hire an “unqualified crony” as city manager and costing Shoreline taxpayers money as a lawsuit that also includes current councilwoman Janet Way and former councilman John Chang lingers on.

A non-partisan organization known as Pro Shoreline is responsible for designing and mailing 12,000 of the fliers.

Pro Shoreline chair Scott Jepsen said the intent of the flier was to keep voters informed.

LFP council restricts extended parking

Residents in Lake Forest Park told council members the city’s parking regulations weren’t making the grade during a public hearing at the Aug. 9 council meeting.

Residents Liane Newman said it’s hard for drivers to see where they are going along her street. That’s especially the case when vehicles, including trucks loaded with debris, are parked alongside the road.

Following the hearing, the council unanimously approved the ordinance that says a privately owned vehicle cannot be parked on any city highway, street or public right-of-way for more than 72 hours. Vehicles that are moved or parked on either side of a public right-of-way within the same block also violate the revised law. The ordinance addresses extended parking, regulations for trucks and trailers, and creates a position for a support services officer to enforce parking regulations.

Shoreline council postpones defense spending decision

The four defendants in Shoreline’s most talked about lawsuit will wait until Sept. 4 to find out if a request for an additional $171,700 in legal funding will be approved by the City Council.

The Council learned there is an enhanced obligation to continue providing legal defense at the Aug. 20 meeting from assistant city attorney Flannary Collins.

Councilmen Rich Gustafson, Ron Hansen, Keith McGlashan and Bob Ransom voted in favor of postponing a vote until after an executive session on Sept. 4. Only council members who are not party to the lawsuit may vote to amend the contract for legal services. The amendment would establish a $341,700 legal contract with Foster Pepper.

City named in meetings lawsuit

Judge Sharon Armstrong granted a motion Aug. 21 to include the city of Shoreline as a defendant in a lawsuit brought against four council members by three Shoreline residents.

The order was received by the city on Aug. 24 and amends the lawsuit alleging violations of the state’s Open Public Meetings Act by council members Maggie Fimia, Bob Ransom, Janet Way, and former councilman John Chang.

The order included permission for the city to conduct discovery — or request information — up to the date of the trial currently scheduled for Sept. 24. The city also has the option of filing for a continuance which would push the trial to a later date according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Michele Earl-Hubbard.


Labor agreements reached at 11th hour

Shoreline school district teachers and support staff will get a cost of living raise if the Shoreline School Board approves their contracts at its Monday, Sept. 10, meeting.

But to get that cost of living adjustment, or COLA, union members gave up other reimbursements, taking cuts to activity pay, special needs support and training. Members of the Shoreline Education Association (SEA) and Shoreline Educational Support Professionals Association (SESPA) ratified labor agreements Tuesday, Sept. 4.

With the agreements, the 2007-08 budget is nearly balanced.

Last week, union members voted to strike if an agreement wasn’t reached with the district by 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sept. 4, the day before school was to start. Bargainers reached tentative agreements at 4 a.m. that morning, after a 12-hour bargaining session.

Shoreline will pay more for lawsuit defense

Additional funding in the amount of $171,400 for the lawsuit alleging violation of the state’s Open Public Meetings Act by John Chang, Maggie Fimia, Bob Ransom and Janet Way was approved by the Shoreline City Council Sept. 4 by a vote of 3-1.

The council decision came after an executive session attended only by council members who are not party to the lawsuit. Several residents addressed the issue before council.

Councilman Rich Gustafson did not support the additional funding. Councilmembers Ron Hansen, Keith McGlashan and Cindy Ryu voted in favor of amending the contract for general litigation.

Elementary class changes proposed

Many elementary students in the Shoreline School District face imminent changes to their classrooms as district officials shuffle them in the coming weeks. Secondary schools could see changes, too, but those are still being worked out.

District officials propose to reduce some class sizes and make others larger at elementary schools.

They also want to add seven full-time equivalent teachers to help in classrooms and add more split classes, where teachers teach two grades at once.

Primary results finalized

Final numbers were certified on Sept. 5, bringing this year’s primary election in Shoreline to a close.

Incumbent Maggie Fimia won the primary race for position No. 4 with 43.2 percent of the votes. Candidate Doris McConnell received 32.7 percent of the votes and secured a spot in the general election on November 6.

Candidate Terry Scott continued to hold a lead over incumbent and current Shoreline Mayor Bob Ransom in the race for position No. 6 with 36.9 percent of the votes.

Candidates Chris Eggen and Paul Grace will seek position No. 2 in the general election — a seat currently held by councilman Rich Gustafson.

Teachers protest classroom changes

Schools in the Shoreline School District were scheduled to be closed Thursday, Sept. 27, because of a one-day strike by the teacher’s and support staff unions.

By picketing, teachers, parents and staff aimed to protest the widespread changes to elementary classes that happened this week and last.

The Shoreline Education Association, the teachers’ union, has also filed a grievance, taken a vote of “no confidence” in district administrators and intends to file an unfair labor practice charge for bad faith bargaining.

This week and last, district administrators moved many children into new classes at Shoreline’s elementaries.

Suit settled, no one takes the blame

The lawsuit alleging violations of the Open Public Meetings Act by three current and one former Shoreline City Council members ended Sept. 14 with a 4-0 vote in favor of a settlement.

In the settlement agreement and release, Shoreline agreed to pay plaintiffs Connie King, Kevin Grossman and John Hollinrake, Jr. a sum of $159,000 and did not assign liability to any party in the 20-month lawsuit. Terms of the settlement were negotiated without the involvement of defendants John Chang, Maggie Fimia, Bob Ransom and Janet Way.

City Manager Bob Olander said the that while the staff does believe the amount is too high the suit is likely to cost the city much more. He speculated that since the city was named as a defendant in the suit in August, a September court date would be delayed, causing defense fees to continue to pile up.


Safety top concern for 15th Avenue work

The Shoreline Planning Department wanted input about 15th Avenue Northeast and Shoreline residents delivered at the Oct. 16 Town Hall meeting at Tabernacle Baptist Church.

About 30 residents studied charts depicting six options for potential lane configurations on 15th Avenue Northeast. On the opposite side of the room, residents looked over charts showing daily average traffic volumes and speeds in North City.

There is a concern about pedestrian safety, operations manager for Shoreline Public Works Jesus Sanchez said and that there seemed to be a general concern for cut through traffic on side streets and a need to create an efficiency of traffic flow.

A resident consensus on whether or not a three lane configuration is better or worse than four lanes was not apparent at the meeting.

Binding conditions will continue

The state will continue to oversee Shoreline School District officials this year under “binding conditions.”

Binding conditions were imposed on the district in 2006 because of its budget problems. Under the conditions, a state official oversees district staff to ensure they balance the budget and restore a fund balance.

Binding conditions will remain until a “reasonable and prudent” fund balance is restored, says an Oct. 5 letter from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, or OSPI, to the district. A fund balance is money a district has left over at the end of the year.

Shoreline approves trash contract

Shoreline residents will be counting on the Seattle-based company CleanScapes to take out the trash beginning in March 2008.

In a unanimous decision Oct. 22, the City Council authorized the city manager to sign a contract with the solid waste management company.

Three companies responded to the city’s request for proposals in June, including CleanScapes, Waste Management and Allied Waste. CleanScapes was the lowest bidder at $5,308,631.

Shoreline will be the first municipal contract for CleanScapes.

LFP council mulls trail signs

Burke-Gilman Trail users may see more signs along the trail’s two-mile stretch in Lake Forest Park if the City Council passes an ordinance following a public hearing Nov. 8 at City Hall.

Council member Donovan Tracy asked the council to consider two amendments to the proposed draft ordinance for additional trail signage during the Oct. 25 meeting.

The city’s identity along the trail, according to Tracy, could consist of signs welcoming trail users to the city as well as block watch signs.

As written, the proposed ordinance would require an applicant for a conditional use permit to submit a plan for intersection control, locations for radar activated speed devices, a proposal for law enforcement along the trail as well as a proposal to accommodate different types of trail users.


City council winners prepare to take seats

Shoreline City Council candidates Chris Eggen, Doris McConnell and Terry Scott led former councilman Paul Grace, and incumbents Maggie Fimia and Bob Ransom on election night on Tuesday, Nov. 6. In Lake Forest Park, candidate Catherine Standford took over the position being vacated by councilmember Roger Olstad. Incumbents Mayor Dave Hutchinson and councilmen Ed Sterner and Dwight Thompson ran unopposed for their council positions.

Jacobs, Norton, Potter elected

Shoreline School Board candidates Mike Jacobs, Maren Norton and Richard Potter were in the lead as preliminary election results rolled in the night of Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Housing, open space options at Fircrest

Residents attended an open house Nov. 8 in the Fircrest gym to learn more about suggested options for the future use of 33-acres of excess property located in the western and southeastern portions of the site on 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 150th Street.

Townhouses, condominiums or apartments, duplexes and small-lot family homes would exist on the excess property and street level retail would be included in one option. A second option would allow space for an expansion of the Department of Health Laboratories and would also consolidate and relocate the Fircrest Campus buildings known as the Y-buildings to a new facility on the campus. The final option would feature facilities common to local communities such as a neighborhood service center, walk-in clinics, a police sub-station, post office or library.

The excess land does not include the Fircrest School or the Washington Department of Health Laboratories.

A report of all possible uses is due to the legislature Jan. 1.

Trail safety concerns property owners

Property owners along the Burke-Gilman Trail attended a public hearing about a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the trail Nov. 13 at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline. Discussion was based on the locations of stop signs, liability concerns and the preferred design option for the redevelopment of the Trail.

The draft EIS addresses three alternatives for redeveloping the Burke-Gilman Trail including a redevelopment alternative, a rebuild alternative and a no-action alternative. King County officials prefer the redevelopment alternative which would reconstruct the trail by widening it, redesign traffic controls and signs and improve sight distance at intersections and driveway crossings.

District made fiscal progress in 2006-07

After a year of difficult cuts, the Shoreline School District closed the books on 2006-07 with about a negative $1.6 million ending fund balance.

Though the ending fund balance for 2006-07 is negative, it’s a little over $1 million more than the district had at the end of 2005-06, fulfilling a district goal to increase the fund balance by $1 million last year.

In August 2006, the district was about $2.7 million in the red.

Shoreline keeps property tax levy at 1 percent

The Shoreline City Council unanimously adopted the 2008 budget, including a 1 percent property tax levy at the regular meeting Nov. 26 at Shoreline Center.

The council was tasked with determining a property tax rate following a state Supreme Court decision on Nov. 8 that overturned a measure known as I-747 that limited increases in property tax collections to 1 percent per year. Without I-747, local governments, including Shoreline, would refer to the previously instated R-47, which allows for up to a maximum 6 percent property levy.

The 1 percent property tax increase Shoreline City Council members decided to maintain is based on the 2007 levy expected to generate just a little over $71,000 not including any additional property tax revenue from new construction according to Tarry.

Council members also voted 4-3 on a resolution to “bank” or save unused property tax from the difference between an amount levied in one year and the maximum that could have been levied under the law. A majority of the Council could vote to use the difference during years where there is a “substantial need.”


Rain leads to flooding

A near record-breaking amount of rain led to flooding Dec. 3 causing Emergency Operations Centers to be activated in Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. Although there were various reports of flooded roads, garages and basements throughout both cities, preliminary reports by Tuesday, Dec. 4, indicated there were no life threatening incidents. Shoreline crews responded to calls about flooding beginning at 2 a.m. on Dec. 3. Throughout the day, four city streets were closed,

In Lake Forest Park, Bothell Way near Towne Centre was closed down to a single southbound lane and water covered roads including Beach Drive and Shore Drive. A portion of Northeast 162nd Street was closed because of possible mudslides. Flooding occurred across roadways throughout the city after water levels in both McAleer and Lyon creeks reached capacity and overflowed their banks.

SCC student union building to open

Shoreline Community College’s campus will get a shot of new life when its three-story, $18.1 million student union building opens. The building, known as the PUB, has something to offer locals, too, with its bookstore, coffee shop, dining area, mailing services and more.

The remodeled PUB is scheduled to reach substantial completion Jan. 22. Services will move in gradually after that.

Trail ordinance postponed

Redevelopment of the Burke-Gilman Trail will likely begin in summer 2008, Lake Forest Park Mayor Dave Hutchinson said at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting.

The announcement preceded discussion about ordinance 963 to amend conditional use criteria for trails, specifically multi-use and multi-purpose trails used by bicyclists, in-line skaters, roller skaters, wheelchair users, runners, and walkers. The council has been in the process of drafting a revised ordinance following a decision by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board since August when a previous city ordinance was overturned by the state’s Growth Management Act.

During the last council meeting of the year, the council voted unanimously to postpone adoption of a new ordinance indefinitely. The Burke-Gilman will be redeveloped under the guidelines of a current city ordinance 909.

Council keeps development moratorium

Shoreline council members heard residents’ concerns and voted unanimously Dec. 17 to continue a six-month moratorium on the filing of any applications for development in certain zoning districts, including along the Aurora Corridor.

The purpose of the moratorium, according to city manager Bob Olander, is to give officials an opportunity to look at and develop regulations that would buffer the transition between two very disparate development potentials.


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City council approves $10-K rebate for Exchange condo purchase

July 18th, 2013 by admin

The City of Winnipeg will write $10,000 cheques for anyone who buys a new condo in the Exchange District or along Waterfront Drive as part of a $7.8-million plan to revitalize the northeastern third of downtown.

Council voted 13-3 today to allow the CentreVenture Development Corp. to funnel new property-tax revenue from across Winnipeg’s downtown into neighbourhood enhancements on both sides of the Exchange District as well as in Chinatown, the Civic Centre neighbourhood and the western fringe of South Point Douglas.

People who buy new condos in the Exchange District, such as in this converted warehouse on James Avenue, could get $10,000 from the city toward a  down payment.

The plan, dubbed the Exchange Waterfront Neighbourhood Development Program, will see $7.8 million in future city and provincial property-tax revenues spent on safety improvements, foot patrols, new patios, retail planning and possibly incentives for an Exchange District grocery store.

Of that cash, up to $2.3 million of city property taxes will be devoted to a new incentive program for Exchange-Waterfront condo buyers, who will receive a $10,000 cheque toward their down payment.

The cash amounts to a forgivable loan, provided the new owner lives in the condo and remains there five years. Flipping the property will not be allowed and early sales will require the buyer to return the cash to the city.

Although there was no recorded vote, Couns. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), John Orlikow (River Heights) and Russ Wyatt (Transcona) say they voted in opposition.

Orlikow said the city has already subsidized condo development and is now subsidizing the sales. The developers should lower their prices, as the market dictates, he said.

Buy new condo, pick up $10K

The City of Winnipeg plans to hand $10,000 cheques to anyone who buys a new condo in the Exchange District or along Waterfront Drive as part of a $7.8-million plan to revitalize the northeastern third of downtown.

The city is poised to allow the CentreVenture Development Corp. to funnel new property-tax revenue from across Winnipeg’s downtown into neighbourhood enhancements on both sides of the Exchange District as well as in Chinatown, the Civic Centre neighbourhood and the western fringe of South Point Douglas.

The plan, dubbed the Exchange Waterfront Neighbourhood Development Program, was approved by two council committees earlier this month with little fanfare. Pending council approval today, it will see $7.8 million in future city and provincial property-tax revenues spent on safety improvements, foot patrols, new patios, retail planning and possibly incentives for an Exchange District grocery store.

Of that cash, up to $2.3 million of city property taxes will be devoted to a new incentive program for Exchange-Waterfront condo buyers, who will receive a $10,000 cheque toward their down payment.


Appeal Your Property Realty Taxes

Winnipeg downtown hotel

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Proposal would bring 5,000 jobs, $5-Million Annual Tax

July 10th, 2013 by admin

Nationwide Realty Investors has unveiled its plans for the redevelopment of the former Big Bear warehouse property and surrounding properties — a proposal the developer says may ultimately bring 5,000 jobs and $5-million in annual income tax revenue to Grandview Heights.

Brian Ellis, Nationwide Realty’s president and chief operating officer, made an informal presentation of the developer’s preliminary plans at the Dec. 19 Grandview Planning Commission meeting. No formal application has been made.

Nationwide’s current plans are to redevelop about 85 acres it now owns between Goodale Boulevard and West Third Avenue into an urban mixed-use neighborhood, Ellis said.

The development site includes 60 acres that once belonged to Big Bear, as well as other properties Nationwide has purchased.

The urban mixed-use development would be given the name “Grandview Yard,” he said. It would include street level retail use with office and residential uses on upper floors.

“Our goal is to have this be a high-energy atmosphere with 365-day, 24/7 activity,” he said.

The neighborhood would be a “throwback community” with what Ellis called “a main street feel. Our plan is not to create a shopping center feel.”

Department store, anchor planned

Total commercial space would be between 1.5-million and 2-million square feet, he said.

The developer would like to attract a department store as an anchor retailer, Ellis said.

“We are not talking about a big box” retailer, he said. “It’s not an alternative that interests us.”

Ellis said he can’t be certain that a department store would agree to locate in Grandview Yard.

“There are only so many department stores out there,” he said.

Even if an agreement could not be reached with a department store and the site plan would have to be revised, it would not include a big box store, Ellis said.

The development plans also call for “a select few junior anchor” stores, he said. These stores would be about 20,000 to 40,000 square feet in size and would be built on the street in a line with other stores.

An example of a junior anchor store would be Best Buy, Ellis said.

It is uncertain at this time how much of the development will be office space and how much will be retail use, he said.

“We’re evaluating this,” Ellis said. “We believe the site has significant retail potential, but ultimately time will tell.”

The site is in an area Natonwide believes is underserved by retail, he said..

None of the buildings in the development would be more than four or five stories high, Ellis said. It would be served by on-street parking, supported with parking garages.

Between 600 and 800 residential units, a mix of for rent and for-sale units, are planned, he said, and would be of high-end quality.

Ellis said he would anticipate most of the renting residents would be young professionals and most of the purchasing residents would be empty-nesters.

Project will lead

to jobs, money

Once the project was completed, an estimated 5,000 people would work in the Grandview Yard development, bringing in an estimated $5-million in additional income tax revenue, he said.

In its heyday, Big Bear employed about 500 people on its 60-acre site and brought in about $500,000 in annual tax revenue, Ellis said.

About 4,000 people currently work in Grandview and the city’s income tax revenue totaled about $4.7-million last year, he said.

The plan calls for a significant amount of infrastructure work, according to Ellis. A new main street for the development, about three-quarters of a mile long, would be built between Goodale and West Third Avenue.

The developer also plans to expand streets from other adjacent parts of the community into the site and widen the railroad overpass and adjoining roadway to better handle traffic, he said.

It would be expected that most motorists would enter and exit the development via state Route 315, Ellis said.

The private infrastructure investment would total more than $500-million, he said.

Nationwide would be asking for tax breaks from the city for the infrastructure work, including, most likely, a tax increment financing deal, Ellis said.

He said Nationwide would like to break ground on the first major phase of the project by the middle of 2009 and complete the first phase by the end of 2010.

A large amount of preparatory work, including razing the existing buildings, would have to be done before a groundbreaking, Ellis said.

That timetable is ambitious, he said, and is subject to change depending on market forces and other factors.

Audience asks

about impact

Following his presentation, Ellis took a number of questions from the audience.

One person asked how Grandview Yard would complement or conflict with existing businesses on Grandview, First, Third and Fifth avenues, as well as at Nationwide’s own Arena District development.

Grandview Yard will be more oriented to regional and national retailers, while “the charm of Grandview Avenue” is its local restaurants and merchants, Ellis said.

Rather than a negative impact, the new development should have a positive effect on local businesses, he said. The 5,000 new employees and 1,000 or so new residents will want to shop and eat at the local businesses, Ellis said.

“We’re not bringing an empty bucket” to the community, he said.

As for the Arena District, “if I thought this project would compete with the Arena District, I wouldn’t be here,” Ellis said.

The Arena District is a downtown destination, and while the two sites are near each other, they are different and distinct, he said.

Ellis was asked how much additional cost he expected the city would have to incur to provide police, fire and other services to the new development.

At the Arena District, Nationwide supplements the Columbus Police Department with its own security force, he said. The company also takes care of the maintenance of the grounds.

“I think there will be an opportunity to create a neighborhood association (in Grandview Yard) to take care of a lot of things,” Ellis said. “The neighborhood will be dense enough that it can share the responsibility for some of those services.”

Ellis indicated the company does not intend to forget about the needs of the Grandview Heights City School District.

“We have not entered into any negotiations, but we know we can’t be successful and the community can’t be successful without a positive impact for the schools,” he said. “I think we can create a big enough pie for everybody.”

Ellis was also asked about city officials’ suggestion the development may include “civic areas.”

Nationwide is interested in integrating a civic element into the development, he said, but needs to hear more from the city.

“Certainly the civic component will be something we will need to work on,” said Patrik Bowman, the city’s director of administration and economic development.

Ellis’ presentation is just the beginning of what everyone agrees will be a long process.

A number of issues, including tax abatements, the city’s participation in the project and rezoning will have to be negotiated and approved.

Ellis said he expects it would take a full decade from the start of construction to complete the entire project.

“We think this is a tremendous opportunity both for our company and for the community,” he said. .


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Wake Weighs Putting Local Sales Tax on Ballot

June 30th, 2013 by admin

The quarter-cent sales tax was one of two revenue options state lawmakers included in last year’s budget to help counties deal with growth-related needs like new schools, better roads and more water and sewer lines.

Eight counties put the sales tax on the November ballot, and voters in five counties – Sampson, Pitt, Catawba, Martin, and Surry – approved the measure.  Meanwhile, voters in all 16 counties that considered a tax on real estate sales soundly defeated the proposals.

The sales tax could generate about $32 million a year in added revenue for Wake County, while a land transfer tax could net the county $49 million a year, officials said.

Wake County commissioners first need to determine how to use any additional revenue – schools, roads or something else – before deciding which tax to pursue and asking voters for their approval, County Manager David Cooke said

“What we’ve done is watch what other counties have done,” Cooke said. “Once we identify what needs are there, then we can go to the community and say, ‘Here are your choices, and here’s how we can pay for these needs.’”

Board of Commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan said he believes the tax debate requires more discussion before it requires action.

“Neither the sales tax or the land transfer tax answer everything,” Bryan said. “That’s just one additional tool to build infrastructure or keep your tax rate as low as possible.”

The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners estimates at least 20 counties will ask voters for the sales tax hike in 2008.

“I think a sales tax probably has a better chance than a real estate transfer tax, simply because it’s broad-based,” political consultant Brad Crone said.

Next year is probably the best time to put any tax referendum on the ballot, Crone said, noting it would fall between the $900 million school bond approved in 2006 and another possible school bond issue on the 2009 ballot.

“From a political calendar standpoint, you’ve got to look at passing it in 2008 when voters go to the polls because of voter fatigue with that many issues,” he said.

But Bryan said asking people next fall to raise the local sales tax might be too much in a short time.


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Property Tax Relief on the Way – Now What ?

June 26th, 2013 by admin

Floridians voted for our Amendment 1 Property Tax relief last month.

The new Constitutional Amendement grants added tax relief to property owners. It doubles the homestead exemption to $50,000; gives homesteaded owners the “portability” right to move Save Our Homes benefits to a new homesteaded property; grants businesses and mobile home residents a $25,000 break on tangible personal property taxes; and caps annual increases for non-homesteaded properties to no more than 10 percent. Most importantly, the proposal fully preserved our existing 3 percent Save Our Homes cap.

That’s great, but now what?

Homeowners do not need to apply for the additional homestead savings. The $50,000 exemptio will be automatically applied starting tihs year.

For others, there are forms to fill out and forms to file.


To take advantage of this tax break, you must take action. There are forms to fill out and forms to file. To move your “Save Our Homes” savings, click here.

To implement the savings, click here.

Or you can visit our local Broward Property Appraiser’s site, which also has a link for forms.


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RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Property values projected to fall again

June 23rd, 2013 by admin

The value of all taxable property in Riverside County is expected to fall again this year, punching a multimillion-dollar hole in the county’s already fragile finances.

The total value of about $205 billion is projected to drop 2 to 2.5 percent — to about $200 billion — for the fiscal year beginning July 1, according to Larry Ward, the county’s assessor/county clerk/recorder.

In 2008, before the housing market collapse, the taxable property base stood at nearly $243billion.


Chief Financial Officer Ed Corser said a 1 percent decrease in the value of taxable property equals roughly $4.5 million of lost revenue. Sinking property values could mean a loss of $9 million or more in property tax revenue, which funds 80 percent of the portion of the county budget directly controlled by supervisors.





The loss would be on top of next year’s expected $13 million gap between revenue and expenditures. As many as 196 county employees — 1 percent of the overall workforce — could be laid off after May 1, county leaders have said.

The total value of county taxable properties is a work in progress and could change before the fiscal year ends June 30, Ward said. Currently, the projection is that property tax revenue will be about $446.6 million for next fiscal year, down from $544.5 million in 2008-09.

Ward said the decline in home values is actually leveling out. He blamed sagging commercial property values for driving the current tax base decrease.

Many commercial property owners are appealing the assessed value, which is the basis of the tax bill. Ward said that, of the 18,000 assessment appeals backlogged at the county assessor’s office, roughly 45 percent deal with commercial properties.

San Bernardino County is looking at a 1 percent drop in total assessed property value, from $161.4 billion to $159.8 billion. County spokesman David Wert said the drop reinforces the county’s plan to cut expenses over a five-year period.

Early estimates had Riverside County facing an $80million shortfall in the upcoming budget. County officials expect a combination of spending cuts, savings from this fiscal year and other revenue will narrow the deficit to $13 million, and Corser indicated that gap could be filled with one-time revenue sources — various pools of money that can only be used once.

Supervisor Marion Ashley said he doesn’t want to use one-time money to plug the gap. The county has resorted to one-time revenue to solve previous shortages, and Corser has warned it will be harder to do that in future budgets.

A decline in the tax base is “going to make it an uphill race, that’s for sure,” Ashley said. “We should still strive to structurally balance the budget whether (the shortfall) is $13 million or $23 million.”

Supervisor John Benoit agreed on the need to avoid using reserves to balance the budget. He said he’s not only concerned about the decline in the tax base, but how long it will take property values to rebound.

“Once we start a recovery … sales tax revenue may return quickly. But assessed valuations will be much, much slower,” Benoit said.


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Loudoun supervisors adopt budget, cut property tax rate

June 20th, 2013 by admin

After a month of budget work sessions that aimed to reduce the tax burden on Loudoun County residents, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to adopt a nearly $1.8 billion fiscal 2013 plan that will lower the property tax rate to $1.235 per $100 of assessed value.

The new tax rate represents a 5-cent decrease from the current tax rate of $1.285. In the next fiscal year, Loudoun homeowners can expect to see an average reduction of $200 in their tax bills, based on the current average home value of about $400,000.

Despite the hopes of several supervisors that the board would pass the budget unanimously, Supervisors Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) remained opposed; the fiscal plan was still too costly, they said.

For Loudoun’s all-Republican, nine-member board – seven of whom were elected to their first term in November – the budget process reflected their campaign promises to focus on fiscal responsibility and economic growth. The supervisors enhanced funding for the county’s economic development initiatives even as they trimmed over $30 million from the fiscal plan initially proposed by County Administrator Tim Hemstreet.

To the dismay of some Loudoun residents, a number of popular programs and organizations did not receive funding – including Loudoun’s Drug Court, the Master Gardeners program, and several nonprofit organizations.

The board began its budget review with even more ambitious cuts in mind: in early March, the supervisors voted to start the process with a proposed tax rate of $1.21 per $100 of assessed value. Attaining that rate would have required about $50 million in cuts to the county budget, and Loudoun’s public school system would have faced a funding gap of $44 million.

The adopted budget still leaves the Loudoun County School Board grappling with a $22 million shortfall, despite the $825 million in county funds that will go toward supporting the school system’s operations – an increase of $58 million over the fiscal 2012 schools budget. Loudoun’s school system, the fastest-growing in the region, will open two new schools and absorb about 2,500 new students this fall.


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Proceeding with Caution: RBC Poll Finds Majority of Canadians Say It Makes Sense to Buy a House Now, But Fewer May Actually Take The Leap

June 14th, 2013 by admin

  Overwhelming majority of Canadians still confident in homeownership and see market shifting in favour of sellers
TORONTO, April 5, 2012— An increasing majority of Canadians believe that now is the time to get into the housing market (59 per cent, up four percentage points from last year), instead of waiting until next year (41 per cent), according to the 19th Annual RBC Homeownership Poll.
This year, slightly more Canadians say they are unlikely to buy within the next two years (73 per cent, up two percentage points), even as confidence in homeownership is on the rise. A majority of Canadians believe housing is a good investment (88 per cent, up two percentage points from last year) and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) believe the value of their home has increased in the past two years, similar to last year (69 per cent). Three-quarters of Canadians (74 per cent) feel they are well-positioned to weather a potential downturn in home prices.”
There’s a mix of opinions on the housing market, as Canadians still feel confident about real estate but are a little uncertain about where the market is heading and when it makes sense to buy,” said Marcia Moffat, head of home equity financing, RBC. “Considerations such as affordability and available housing choices may be the difference between intent and reality when purchasing a home.”
At this times where the worldwide economy has been bad, this are a good news!! There are people like myself who would like to get a house and with this news there is hope i can get one. This is the right time to do so, because next year is going to get more difficult because all the raise in the taxes, that are going to happen next year, so if you’re interested in buying a house, you’re in perfect time before the tax raise.



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Wis. gov says property taxes dropped slightly

June 12th, 2013 by admin

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s administration says property taxes dropped slightly last year.

The administration released a memo from the Department of Revenue showing that taxes on a median value home dipped 0.4 percent, the first time in 12 years they’ve decreased. The memo credits $3.6 billion in new construction with helping to ease the burden on existing homeowners.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau had estimated last year that property taxes on a median value home would increase by nearly a full percentage point in 2011.

The actual 0.4 percent decrease equates to a drop of $11 for the owner of a median valued home of $157,600.

The average property tax bill on that same home was $2,951.


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Council preview: Property-tax overhaul not certain this year

June 11th, 2013 by admin

City Council returns today for a fall session that is bound to be overshadowed by the unfinished business of massive property-tax reform – even if no official action is taken on the issue this year.

The Nutter administration, which failed to persuade Council to enact the mayor’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI) in the spring, says the results of a citywide reassessment that is central to the reform effort won’t be available until December.

Some Council members interpreted that to mean after they leave for the Christmas recess, in which case 2012 would pass without anyone knowing exactly how AVI would affect individual neighborhoods and property owners.

“Nobody wants to hear Council members say, ‘We don’t know,’ ” said Councilman Mark Squilla, who led the effort to delay AVI in the spring. ” ‘Well, how is this going to affect me?’ We don’t know.”

But even if AVI isn’t the centerpiece of the fall session, the reform effort promises to be the subtext of plenty of discussions and maneuvering.

One highlight: Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. plans to introduce legislation Thursday to reduce the 10-year tax abatement on residential construction to a five-year program that would have a full abatement only in the first year.

Though he’s introducing the bill now, he intends it to take off in the spring as part of the larger debate over AVI and “tax fairness.”

Goode said the discussion should be not only about creating an equitable property-tax system, but using that reform to “pay for business- and wage-tax reform.”

There also could be movement in the fall on two of Council President Darrell L. Clarke’s proposals to raise revenue – one to sell city assets and another to allow advertising on city property.

Any added revenue for the next budget could affect the amount the city needs to raise through property taxes.

The city is seeking proposals to sell the municipal-owned garage below LOVE Park, real estate previously valued at up to $40 million.

Clarke also said the city had received two bids from vendors that would solicit and manage advertising on city property. He is particularly interested in the idea of putting ads on trash trucks.

“Sanitation vehicles travel every block in the city,” Clarke said. “I got to think that’s a very lucrative opportunity for an advertiser.”

Clarke also hinted at plans to roll out in about a month a “comprehensive approach to increasing revenue and putting another opportunity on the table to rebuild neighborhoods and reduce taxes.”


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