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Council supports CenCom proposal

POULSBO — The city council this week threw its support behind ballot proposition that would raise sales tax while lowering property taxes.

And all in the name of 911.

Kitsap County’s Central Communications (CenCom), the 911 emergency system that serves the entire county, is proposing a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax to replace the 2001 temporary lid-lift property tax funding. The measure, which will be on the ballot April 22, is expected to raise about $1.4 million in 2003 and $2.8 million in 2004 if approved. It would also return about $7.5 million to $8 million of the $10.5 million levy-lift to the property tax rolls.

CenCom Deputy Director Dave Magnenat spoke to the Poulsbo City Council in December urging support for the measure. He explained that the proposition first and foremost would fulfill CenCom’s 2001 promise to voters that if the three-year levy lift were approved that officials would find a dedicated source of funding for 911 in Kitsap County. He also said that using sales tax rather than property taxes seemed a more equitable way to pay for 911 because the funding source would rise and fall with populations, thereby accurately reflecting the number of users in an area.

The Poulsbo City Council has a policy that it will not take a stance on an issue unless it has heard from speakers both for and against the matter. At the March 5 city council meeting, Mayor Donna Jean Bruce reported that City Clerk Karol Jones had been unable to find anyone to speak in opposition of the CenCom measure.

“She most recently contacted the League of Women Voters who said they didn’t know of anybody who’s against it,” Bruce explained.

Councilwoman Jackie Aitchison thanked the city staff for being so diligent in looking for a “con” speaker on the proposition and supporting the council’s policy. She added that she felt the clerk’s findings showed there was a large amount of support in the county for this measure and felt comfortable supporting the measure.

The council voted unanimously to support the proposition.

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