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County Commissioners Moving with the Second Option of Funding

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With the sales tax proposal in the county suffering a defeat, county commissioners are ready to move forward with option number two: shifting money from the county’s road fund to the general fund.
It would raise the same amount of money: $3 million per year to pay for jail security upgrades and cover payments of a 2010 bond; However, many would still pay more under this plan. Yakima homeowners would see a property tax increase, while homeowners in the county would see a drop. It’s tough for neighbors like Mike Whitacre to swallow.
“I’m on a fixed income. It only goes so far,” said Whitacre. “Do I give it to the road tax or do I give it to medicine?”
For a home worth $150,000, city homeowners would pay about $30 more each year. Those living in an unincorporated part of the county would see property taxes drop about $40 a year. Yakima County Budget Director Craig Warner says only those living in unincorporated areas currently pay into the road levy. Everyone would pay with the shift. Voters that KIMA spoke with are divided.

“Well, I voted yes on that…” said Rudy Keeled.

“I voted no,” Eddie Ford said.

“Basically, because we need it,” said Keeled. “The one-tenth, just everyone would have to pay some into the fund and I thought that was fair.”

“Taxpayers can only take so much,” said Ford.

Moving money out of the road fund would also mean less attention to county roads.

The county says a tax shift will reduce road funding by up to a quarter, which will impact future construction and maintenance of roads that need it the most.

“The commissioners wouldn’t have put it on the ballot if they didn’t think it was preferable to taking money out of the road system,” said Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliott. “I’m disappointed, and I’m sure the other commissioners are too.”

Commissioners still need to formally approve a resolution to shift the funds.

Rand Elliott expects the changes to take effect at the start of next year.

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