Friday, September 28, 2012
Police Layoffs Threatened If Council Doesn't Approve Elimination Of Homestead Credit
The Ballard administration has apparently warned some city-county councilors to expect layoffs of police if the council does not agree to the elimination of the homestead credit for residential property taxpayers. Eliminating the homestead credit would help the city close a $50 to $60 million budget deficit for 2013 according to the administration by about $8 million; however, if it is retained, the credit will cost about $13 million in city-county revenues for 2013. As I previously reported, the city's gain from eliminating the homestead credit would come at the expense of other taxing districts, particularly schools. County option income tax revenues are the source from which the cost of providing the credit is paid rather than foregone property tax revenues. If the credit is eliminated, a number of homeowners who haven't bumped up against the property tax cap of 2% will reach it, causing a hit to taxing units who rely on property tax revenues. Police staffing levels are already down about 300 from where they were several years ago after the city enacted a 65% increase in the county option income tax, which was dubbed at the time as a "public safety tax increase" because of the nearly 100 police additional police officers the public was told the city would be able to hire once the tax became law.