Blaine City Council approves 1 percent property tax increase

In a 6–0 vote, Blaine City Council approved to increase the regular property tax by 1 percent for the coming year.

The vote, taken November 28, has been discussed at council meetings since October. In all, city staff expect the increase will generate just over $10,700 in revenue, in addition to higher receipts resulting from new construction and property improvements.

Homeowners with a property valued at $250,000, for example, should expect to see their property tax increase by $3.52 as a result of the hike.

Blaine receives an average 11 percent of the total property tax per year, said city of Blaine finance director Jeff Lazenby. The rest is allocated to the state, county and other public agencies.

In Blaine, 56 percent of property tax revenue is allocated to the city’s street capital bond, 18 percent to the general fund, 14 percent funds street improvement projects and 12 percent pays for street operations.

In other tax news, Whatcom County Council’s November 22 approval of a 1 percent tax increase was vetoed by county executive Jack Louws one week later. Council had voted 5–2 in favor of the increase with only Barbara Brenner and Rud Browne in opposition.

As the increase was part of the county budget approved by council on November 22, the budget itself was vetoed as well. The issue will return to council on December 5 and it will take five votes to overrule Louws’ veto.

The 1 percent increase would have resulted in increased revenues of $285,000 in 2017. Louws gave as his reason for vetoing the increase the fact that council earmarked approximately $150,000 for a legal review of possible legislation on banning fossil fuel exports from Cherry Point while the rest of the money wasn’t intended for a specific purpose.

Louws believed there were more urgent concerns facing county residents than a legal review he described as being unnecessary.

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