Commissioner Proposes Road Levy Reduction

Monday morning’s Grays Harbor Board of Commissioners meeting included a Road Levy Reduction Proposal by Commissioner Wes Cormier.  He noted that “this proposal has no impact on the general fund.” The proposal could lower property tax for many property owners and prevent pro-ration for many districts throughout the county.

If you’ve ever tried to understand the topsy-turvy world of levies, pro-ration, aggregates and all the other fun stuff that comes with the topic, here’s a tip: try standing on your head. On the dark side of the moon. While reciting the Greek alphabet. Backwards. Underwater. With a mouthful of marbles.

The micro-short version a la the commish:

  • A taxing district is like an apple pie. No matter how many times you slice up, at the end of the day you have one pie. Each year when that pie is baked and divided, it is only allowed to be made 1% larger than the prior year according to state law.
  • Individual levies or slices of the pie make up the overall taxing district. In this case the county has two levies – the General Fund Levy and the Road Levy.
  • A fire levy assists the fire district with fire prevention services, fire suppression services, emergency medical services, and for the protection of life and property.
  • Timberland Regional Library provides service in Grays harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties. It also provides service to the 9 cities located in Grays Harbor.
  • (A) Hospital District allows a hospital to collect a property levy to operate health care and medical services.

Still awake? Good. Cuz there’s more. It’s called “pro-ration” and “aggregates.” It works like this:

  • Some levies take priority over other levies. When the slices of levies that make up that pie (district) reach their aggregate levy ceiling ($5.90), then a system of pro-ration occurs. The County General Fund and County Road Levy are at the top of that food chain. (With regard to the levy process, pro-ration means dividing or distributing money on a priority basis.  When the aggregate rate is exceeded, then the pro-ration process for allocating that sum of money within that district begins.)
  • At present, 12 districts are in danger of pro-ration, with eight or more districts “at $5.80 or higher.” That’s a problem. Why? Because if a small district reaches its aggregate limit, pro-ration occurs and they’ll have to reduce. Example: Timberland Regional Library District covers five counties. If they hit their limit, all five counties are effected, which could result in a mighty big hitch in their fiscal get-a-long.

Commissioner Cormier’s proposal is to reduce the road levy fund from $2.23 (est) to $2.00 (est) or about $590K. This would help some of the other levy districts like the hospital, Timberland Regional Library, multiple fire districts, and the City of Hoquiam.

Reducing the road levy will lower property tax for many property owners and it will prevent pro-ration for many districts throughout the county.  It does not add money to the district, but it reduces the amount collected in that district.  This in turn prevents other districts from collecting less than they budgeted.

Clear as mud?

Now, then. If you’re running low on Sominex or have a burning desire to stand on your head on the dark side of the moon while reciting Euripedes and Friends, check out the presentation here: Road Levy Reduction info. Read it for yourself. After you finish those marbles.

Commission Cormier emphasizes that levies are not typically addressed until the end of year. He said his presentation is “something to chew on,” which sounds an awful lot like pro-active, huh?


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons