Covington City Council approves utility tax increase
By DENNIS BOX
Covington Reporter Editor
December 1, 2011 · 8:42 AM
After considerable discussion and testimony from the public, the Covington City Council approved a 0.5 percent utility tax increase to complete the first phase of the Covington Community Park.
The park is located at corner of 180th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 240th Street.
The vote to approve the increase was 6-1 with Councilman Mark Lanza dissenting.
The 0.5 percent increase will move the city’s utility tax to 6 percent with 1/12 of the tax collected dedicated to the completing phase one of the park. The increase will add $2 per person per month.
During council discussion prior to the vote Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Wagner said, “I want to look to the future. I want to take care care of my family now and the families in the city.”
Councilman Mark Lanza said it was no secret he had opposed the tax increase, but, supported building the park.
“I certainly have not taken this lightly and it has been hard,” Lanza said.
The councilman said he is concerned about the funds the city may lose because of the state budget problems and the ongoing economic problems in the region and nation.
“Unfortunately I don’t have a rosy outlook for the future,” Lanza said. “If this was a good economy or even a stable economy I would have no problem with (0.5) percent.”
Councilman David Lucavish said he was also concerned with the state budget problems, but said he decided to support the increase of considerable thought.
“I really think this is so strategic we have to do it,” Lucavish said.
Councilman Wayne Snoey noted he saw a “bright future for our city with business. There are so many uses for the park.”
Following the vote Mayor Margaret Harto said, “This council should be commended for a thorough and sometimes emotional conversation.”
In 2012 the city will direct about $135,000 to the park capital fund and about $180,000 each year after 2012 for maintenance of the park.
One of the reasons the majority of the council supported the ordinance was the city had received about $1.5 million in grants from the state and King County. If the city was unable to come up with balance to build the park the grant money would have gone back.
Staff told the council it would have been more difficult to receive grant money in the future if they were unable to use these funds on the park.
The city has spent about $600,000 in designing and planning the park up to now.
The site is about 30 acres and is a collection of four parcels purchased by the city in 2003 and then brought into King County’s urban growth boundary in 2004. It was annexed into the city in 2008.
Phase one includes a soccer field and a trail system. In addition, the long term plan for Covington Community Park includes a plaza, volleyball and basketball courts, a large playground, a plaza, tennis courts and an outdoor performance area along with trails winding around the edge.
The idea, if all goes to plan, is to break ground on the first phase in the spring.
Contact Covington Reporter Editor Dennis Box at email@example.com or 1-425-432-1209 (ext 5050).