August 16, 2016
Meeting was called to order at 7:30am. Steve Tharinger led the flag salute.
Guests: Jack and Tammy Blake, Hannah Fritz, Dave Mattingly, Randy Hurbert, Carolyn Dennis, Linda Alger, River Sussman, Rick Erickson, Jim Stockard, Danille Turissini, Lowell, and more.
Andrew May moved and Edna Petersen seconded acceptance of the minutes for August 9. Motion carried.
DNR White Paper – Trust Obligations to Counties & their Taxing Districts:
Harry Bell gave a brief background on the document and its importance this year. Jim McEntire explained how the State Constitution and Laws are workings of the DNR benefit Counties with Trust Lands. The document argues how the DNR needs to make up differences between what is and what is not done. Steve Bierman asked why isn’t more of the Okanogan County v Belcher decision included in the body of the document. Jim said he would reread the case to see if more could or should be added to the report. He will be doing a one page summary of the report to accompany the main document.
Edna Petersen moved and Jack Glaubert seconded that PABA accept the document. Motion Carried.
Kaj suggested that the County Commissioners, City Councils and Business Associations on the Peninsula be sent copies.
Edna expressed concern for the problem with homelessness and drugs. She said that PA-CAN (PA Citizen Action Network) will have a meeting this Thursday, at 6pm, in the City Council Chambers. (Meeting will be at Vern Burton, not City Hall.)
Andrew May said Cliff Mass from the University of Washington Department of Atmospheric Science, will talk on the subject of weather and climate change on Wednesday at 6:30pm at the Public Library.
Carol Johnson reminded all that the Clallam County Fair is this week and that help is still needed in the Fair Kitchen. Let her know if you can help. You get a free pass into the fair!
Andrew moved and Edna seconded that the meeting be extended to 8:45am. Motion carried.
Andrew introduced Steve Tharinger and John Alger, candidates for the State House Representative District 24 position and reminded us that the budget they make will have an impact on everyone.
Steve Tharinger, a County Commissioner for 12 years and a State Representative for 6 years, said he is looking for a pragmatic solution to problems and challenges that the State faces. He mentioned several items he has worked on:
- A hospital in Jefferson County, who when required to take the lowest bid, found out it did not fit with what they needed. Now hospitals have at least a $5,000 margin on bids.
- Hospitals were required to hold patients until they could find suitable professional facilities for the patient. Now a patient can be released to a family caregiver.
John Alger, a retired Air Force Captain, has lived in the District for 18 years. He offered an option to Steve by saying he wants more jobs, more work done to clean up the McCleary Decision, and more help with social issues such as homelessness and drug use.
Steve said the problems that can go with aging are of concern in the District where the average savings is about $25,000, which is not enough to pay for nursing home care. He would like to see more training for home respite care. He said he is proud of his past work on the Capital Budget and why has brought jobs and money to the area.
Q & A Period
Kaj said the State seems to be short of money but it keeps spending. Are we over-taxed or under-taxed? How is McCleary going to be funded?
JA: State is now 0ver-taxed and it is hard on senior citizens, who, unlike those still working, do not get a raise every year. McCleary should be funded with the extra revenue that is coming in to the state. If it can’t, then redefine what needs to be accomplished with the Decision.
ST: Population growth should not be included in the matrix. State is one of the fastest growing in the Union but is still too dependent on sales taxes which come mainly from new car sales. The State’s economy is a service economy and it should be taxing big business, not the aging citizen. A capital gains tax (on profits, not net), would help. It should not come from home sales. Investment sales should exempt the first $25,000, and be no more than 5% after that. People and businesses are not coming to the Peninsula because of the quality of schools which are not providing the high end technicians needed. A B&O tax, again, on big corporations, might help.
JA: State could cut services to pay for things like McCleary. Capital Gains taz is only a half step to income tax, and he is not for it. The main problem comes from the failure of the Legislature to do what it should be doing.
Jim Stockard, Sequim School System: How would you even out tax rate system for School Districts?
JA: Vocational tracking would help lower dropout rates.
ST: State should assume all levies. Raising property taxes evenly throughout the State should be considered. There is a need for skill training such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and less emphasis on testing. The need of the student and his education is more than the need of the test.
JA: An Education Task Force should be putting out a report soon and will wait to see what reforms they address.
Edna: L&I, B&O, Minimum wage. They all hurt the small business owner. What are you going to do about them?
ST: He would like to know more specifics about L&I concerns. He supports an increase in the minimum wage, but not up to $15.00 per hour.
JA: Local levies will be helped with a swap. He will look more into the B&O problem. He thinks that L&I claims should be easier to obtain than always having to have legal representation, if you want action. Minimum wage should be determined by local citizens. No can can live on $12.00 per hour, yet small businesses cannot afford to pay that.
ST: A uniform B&O policy would be easier to manage, especially with all the paperwork, and consideration should be given to where the actual work was done. Taxes are not always the answer. For example, Clallam County when it had extra money, did not lower taxes, but put that money in savings where now it can be touched for expenses.
JA: Taxes impede small businesses, especially new ones. A tax holiday for new businesses might help encourage them to get started. Money will then turn over and over and over. The B&O tax should not be on those making less than $250,000.
Danille Turissini: What has Steve done for the rest of the District?
ST: Capital improvements for Hospitals, Ports, Gateway Center and Floods.
JA: He would work to help with Flood insurance. He said technology such as the Cross Laminate Timber Industry, should be brought here, not sent somewhere else. He would like to see taxes on online sales.
Next weeks’ speakers are Dave Neupert and Brian Coughenour, candidates for Clallam County Superior Court Judge.
Meeting adjourned at 8:50am.