Centralia Council Approves Property Tax Levy Increase


The Centralia City Council approved a property tax levy increase for 2017 on Tuesday night, a move that will result in an approximately 27-cent increase annually on a single family home costing $150,000.

The .953 of a percent increase, passed on first reading, will generate about $6,402 in additional money, bringing the 2017 levy amount to $678,666.

In 2016, the levy was certified at $672,259.

The estimated rate for taxpayers will be 66 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. 

In order to set the new levy amount, the council voted on two measures.

“State law says if there is a population of 10,000 or more then you have basically a two-part process,” Bret Brodersen, the city’s finance director, said. “You have to pass an ordinance that says there is a need for the property tax, and then you have to pass the actual levy.”

The council first voted in favor of finding a substantial need for the property tax increase, which was approved 5-2, with councilors Peter Abbarno and John Elmore opposing the measure.

The council then passed an ordinance on first reading that set the 2017 property tax levy, a measure that passed with a 4-3 vote, with Abbarno, Elmore, and Councilor Ron Greenwood in opposition.

According to Brodersen, property taxes provide 7 percent of the city’s general fund. The property tax increases are based on last year’s levy, and not on the increasing value of property. 

The council sets a levy each year to support the cost of general government. 

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the council also approved the 2017 proposed budget on first reading, in the amount of $58,953,679. That includes proposed funding for 157.9 full-time equivalent positions, one less than for 2016. 

According to Brodersen, the budget targets five strategic priorities of the city, which includes the improvement of streets, local flood relief projects, protection of critical aquifers, economic and jobs growth, and a strategy for key infrastructure needs.

Many departments saw revenue increases, with the largest in the street department with 33.7 percent, largely due to the money from the Transportation Benefit District fund. 

The street department’s budget is proposed at $2.14 million for 2017.

Other items include:

• Water Department, 24 percent increase, total of $6.2 million

• Wastewater Department, 14 percent increase, total budget of $9.6 million

• Stormwater Department, 11 percent increase, total budget of $900,000

• City Light, 10 percent increase, total budget or $27.2 million

• Equipment rental and replacement, 1 percent increase, $540,000

Public hearings on both the property tax levy and the budget garnered no comment from city residents. 

The final public hearing and adoption of both the levy and the budget will be at the next council meeting on Nov. 22.