In this tough economy, opposition to higher taxes is as strong as ever.
But Bellevue officials weren’t even trying to raise taxes -- they only asked voters to make permanent a 0.5-percent, income tax renewal levy residents already pay and have paid for more than 20 years.
It didn’t matter.
Bellevue voters overwhelmingly voted against it, with the unofficial tally of 574 votes for the measure, 716 against.
City council president Karen Justice said while she thinks the lousy economic climate is mostly to blame for the failure, she can appreciate voters’ reluctance.
“I completely understand the voters’ sentiment,” Justice said. “Just look at our unemployment figures.”
On Tuesday night, many voters seemed to avoid tax proposals of any kind. Bellevue’s library levy and Monroeville Schools levy both bit the dust.
But this measure would not have created new money: Bellevue’s income tax rate has remained at 1.5 percent since the 1980s.
The city has a permanent 1-percent income tax supplemented with a 0.5-percent income tax that must be renewed every five years. Voters have renewed it without fail, city officials said.
The truth of the matter is the city can no longer do without the extra 0.5 percent, city officials said. Providing even the most basic services would be almost impossible without the $1 million generated annually by the five-year renewal levy.
Despite Tuesday’s loss, Bellevue is not doomed to future budget cuts.
There’s still plenty of time to get the renewal measure passed for another five-year cycle.
“We’ve actually started early enough so -- if it did not pass -- we could put it on the ballot again for another five-year renewal, if that’s what the voters preferred,” Bellevue law director David Wallingford said.
“This goes through this year -- we would just need to pass something by the end of this year to continue it on next year.”