In a recent editorial to KMAS, as well as a letter to the Journal, Paul Rogerson, who did not identify himself as the past city planner in Shelton, compares his current employer, the City of Sumner, with the City of Shelton. Even though the comparison seems a stretch due the location of Sumner in the Seattle commute area, I will go with his comparison. One of his major points is low fees and rates do not attract new development. Apparently, he is not using the two cities he references for that opinion. Research on both utility rates and property taxes in Sumner and Shelton indicate that Sumner has lower rates and taxes than Shelton. Comparing my household in Shelton, water and sewer charges are 29% ($32/month) higher for a low-usage month and 22% higher for a high-usage month. Think what you could do for your family with an additional $400-500 this year! Property taxes are also interesting. The city (and associated services) levy rate in Shelton is 75% higher than in Sumner. That would be another savings of $237 on property taxes for my Shelton home.
On the debt front, Mr. Rogerson’s Sumner has made all their great investments while maintaining a long-term debt of $35 million. Compare that to Shelton’s current long-term debt of $46 million (both from each city’s unaudited 2014 financial statements). Put on a basis used to rate municipal bonds, debt to assessed value ratio, Sumner has a ratio of 1.9% while Shelton’s ratio in 8.1%. Shelton already has 4 times the amount of debt per assessed value dollar.
So Mr. Rogerson, how in the world can you surmise that the success of Sumner is not related to lower utility rates, property taxes or debt level? And then come to the conclusion that candidates who support limiting our exposure when rolling the dice on future growth are somehow “cheap”. Shelton’s choice in this election is clear. We have two candidates in city races that follow Mr. Rogerson’s logic, that almost any investment is good even when it drives existing residents and businesses to pay significantly higher costs. Or we have two candidates who understand how their decisions will impact both current and future city residents, with or without significant city growth.
Shelton also needs city officials who are completely honest with residents. Mike Olsen presented information to KMAS on water and sewer rates which were limited to only the fixed meter charge, not usage charges (see KMAS post 5/20/2014). This omission put the city’s rates in a favorable light. Whether it is “incomplete” information on utility rates or the potential uses of tax receipts from Shelton’s proposed Transportation Benefit District (see KMAS post 8/25/2015), we need officials who tell residents the full story.
Please vote for Mayor Gary Cronce and Kathy McDowell.
Bob Rogers, Shelton