Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward issued a veto on Friday in opposition to the 1% property tax increase that was bundled with the rest of the 2023 property tax levy and approved by the City Council on Nov. 14.
That veto is likely to be short-lived, however, with the council expected to override it at the upcoming Nov. 28 meeting, said Council President Breean Beggs. Five votes are required to override a veto, and the tax hike passed 5-2 last week.
Washington law allows local governments to collect 1% more through their regular property taxes every year without requiring a vote of the people.
In a Friday letter to the City Council, Woodward wrote that she was opposing the tax increase, which added nearly $650,000 to the city’s 2023 budget at a cost of a few dollars to most property owners.
“I decided to not include the tax increase to give families a break during an economic climate that has seen prices rise dramatically due to inflation and brought on fears of a recession going into the next year,” she wrote. “As our citizens tighten their budget, now is not the time to ask more of them.”
In a Monday evening text, Woodward spokesman Brian Coddington wrote the veto was only intended to apply to the rate hike itself. Woodward’s letter to council specifically mentioned the 1% increase.
However, shortly before Monday’s Council meeting, Council President Breean Beggs told The Spokesman-Review that Woodward’s veto appeared to be far less narrowly tailored.
“It looks like the mayor vetoed the entire ordinance, which is all the property tax levies – so parks and streets,” Beggs said.
This appeared to be a clerical error, Coddington said Monday evening, due to a failure to “check a box.”
“Well, it still has the same effect,” Beggs said after Monday’s meeting. “It may have been an error on the mayor’s part, but it still has the same effect, and council has to cure it, which we will do next Monday.”
Beggs called the mayor’s opposition to the tax hike a political move as Woodward prepares to run for reelection in 2023.
The money added to the budget by the 1% increase has typically been used to fund police and fire vehicles, Beggs said.
“This administration has said they were for those vehicles, and yet they won’t fund it,” he added. “The election has already started for next year, the mayor has kicked it off, and this just seems like a bit of theatrics.”
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