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Everett interested in levy lid lift tax measure to address budget challenges

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(The Center Square) – The Everett City Council will explore a potential levy lid lift and additional tax annexations in order to combat an expected general fund budget deficit in 2025 and beyond.

The council was briefed on revenue options during Wednesday’s city council meeting. Everett officials signaled their intention to work on placing a property tax levy lid lift on this November’s ballot.

Without a levy lid lift, a 2025 budget deficit of $12.6 million is projected. If the city implements a levy lid lift that would tack on $100 to what an Everett median homeowner pays in property tax, it would reduce the deficit by $5.2 million.

According to Everett Finance Director-Treasurer Susy Haugen, it would take a near $250 increase on property owners to balance the 2025 budget, preventing a general fund deficit for at least one year.

At the top of the range presented to the Everett City Council, if a $400 increase to property owners was implemented, it would generate $21 million and keep the budget balanced for at least five years.

The median home value in Everett this year is $520,600. This year, an average homeowner is expected to pay $4,471 in property taxes, with Everett receiving $793 out of the total.

If voters were to pass a levy lid lift that tacks on an additional $250 in property taxes to combat the looming budget deficit, the median homeowner would pay over $4,700 just to relieve the city’s general fund for one year.

Without any revenue options for the city, Everett officials estimate the general fund deficit to jump to $16.8 million in 2026 and then balloon to $35.4 million in 2030.

Everett City Councilmember Ben Zarlingo said that the city will have to prepare information for residents who may question what would happen if no such levy lid lift is passed by voters.

The Everett City Council was also briefed on two other potential revenue options that would not be able to be implemented until after 2025: an annexation of the Sno-Isle Library Tax Levy and the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.

If the city were able to annex the Sno-Isle Library Tax that is capped at 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed value, city officials estimate that would have an average annual impact of $178 and reduce the deficit by $7 million.

As for an annexation of the Regional Fire Authority, it would have to increase taxes for property owners by $276 in order to generate $18.2 million to clear the budget deficit for at least one year.

During the city council meeting, a few of members of the council signaled their lack of support for these two potential annexations and emphasized further research into alternative revenue sources, including more grants.

The Everett City Council will have to take action on submitting a levy lid lift by July 31 to get it on the November ballot.