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Marysville City Council votes to increase utility rates, keep property tax rates the same

MARYSVILLE — Although the Marysville City Council voted unanimously Nov. 8 to increase utility rates, the issue of property taxes inspired some debate among its members.

The 6-0 vote approved a utility rate increase of 2 percent, the maximum allowed by Marysville city code, which city Finance Director Sandy Langdon deemed a standard increase in the yearly budget.

The utility rate increase will take effect Jan. 1 of next year and will result in a city sewer rate increasing by $4.58 to $75.02 for a single-family residence, the surface water utility rate increasing by 20 cents to $10.20, and the city water rate increasing by 39 cents to $20.12 for most customers.

The Council also voted 4-2 not to increase property taxes, but the disagreement among its members was on whether to forgo banking the 1 percent rate increase allowed this year for future use.

Jeff Vaughan moved not to bank the 1 percent property tax rate increase and was joined by fellow Council members Jeff Seibert, John Soriano and Michael Stevens in his vote. Council members Carmen Rasmussen and Lee Phillips cast the two dissenting votes.

"It's a bad decision to raise property taxes in difficult times," Vaughan said. "We need to look for ways to bring in revenue other than tapping into our citizens' homes."

Vaughan and Soriano both cited the recent elections as evidence of many citizens' attitudes toward taxation, not only in Marysville but also across the state and the country. To that end, Vaughan proposed putting such tax rate increases up to votes by the citizens themselves, whom he believes would not approve them in the current economic climate.

Vaughan expressed support for allowing cities to bank non-levied tax dollars for the discretionary use of their future councils, and even stated that he feels comfortable with the 3 percent that the city has banked since 2007, but he drew the line at moving that banked capacity, which currently stands at approximately $247,600, up to 4 percent.

Phillips agreed with Vaughan on not raising property taxes, but cited this year's flooding of the city Public Works Building as but one example of an emergent need that could be met by banking this year's 1 percent.

"That was just a little flood of a small section, and that still cost us," Phillips said. "If we have something like an earthquake instead, we're kind of SOL."

Vaughan responded to Phillips' concerns by again suggesting that such tax increases could be put up to votes by the people.

The six-member Council also unanimously passed the city of Marysville's $119.6 million preliminary budget Nov. 8.

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