When Does Temporary Become Permanent?September 17th, 2007 by Steven Gardner
The issue is whether language deletion in the bill now means that lid lifts and the like are permanent unless specified otherwise. A Revenue department memo suggested as much, and the Times is convinced the new law does what Revenue fears. Horse’s Ass disagrees. The Columbian wants clarity and Bob Meadows writes:
The new law gives all taxing districts that can impose regular levies the power to propose this different kind of lid lift, and also makes the increase in the levy lid permanent unless the ballot measure specifically says it is of limited duration.
The State Attorney General has, according to a couple of sources, been asked to weigh in and be the final word on this issue.
As Meadows said in his piece this could be relevant in Bremerton. Bremerton is hoping to get voter approval on a six-year lid lift to pay for park improvements and sidewalk construction. The language clearly states Bremerton the increase in 2008 and for each of the five succeeding years.
Roger Lubovich, Bremerton’s city attorney, said he’s been having discussions with other attorneys on the matter, and there is strong opinion within the legal community that the Department of Revenue speculation (and with it The Seattle Times) is flat out wrong.
I’ve read the bill, and while I don’t count myself as a MENSA member, I don’t think I’m an idiot. I found the bill confusing.
What seemed clear to me, though, is language toward the end of the bill which states,
Except as otherwise provided in an approved ballot measure under this section, after the expiration of a limited period . . . subsequent levies shall be computed as if . . . The limited proposition under subsection (4) of this section had not been approved . . .
That means once the special levy is over, the tax rate goes back to what it would have been had the levy never been passed.
But even Lubovich, an attorney, can’t definitively state that that’s the law. That’s why we’ll all wait for the AG to weigh in.