Say no to sales tax for housing

Sales tax increases to pay for low-income housing are a bad idea because they disproportionately affect low-income persons, the very persons we are trying to help.

If you live at the edge of poverty, all of your income is needed for the necessities of life. If, however, you have greater income, a sales tax increase is no big deal.

There is a better way to provide more low-cost housing. and that is though developer incentives.

By zoning, the city should establish a High Rise Residential Zone, in which building heights would be limited to four floors. Two on-site parking spaces should be required for every unit. If, however, the developer will offer 25% or more of the units at the low-cost housing rate, a fifth bonus floor would be permitted.

The purpose of two parking spaces per unit is to help mitigate impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

Developer incentives are a win-win approach for everyone involved. Vote no to sales tax increases.

Tom Fulk



Small sales tax increase offers big returns

Ballots will soon go out to Anacortes residents for the Feb. 11 election regarding the Special Sales Tax for Workforce Housing. This is an important issue that, if passed, can have a real and lasting beneficial impact on our community.

The request is a very small increase in cost, one-tenth of 1% sales tax. For a $10 purchase of taxable goods, that is one additional penny. The return on that is substantial, as much as $6.5 million over the next 20 years. That money would be used to build affordable housing in Anacortes.

We are fortunate Anacortes is a beautiful and desirable place to live. However, too many of those who wish to work and live here cannot afford to purchase a home or pay the increasingly high rents. They may be young folks just starting out, veterans or retired people no longer able to afford their mortgage or rent. They very likely could be the people who work in our local businesses that we see every day. These people are a part of the community and should have an affordable place to live.

The funds provided from this small increase would be used by the Anacortes Housing Authority and Anacortes Family Center to build affordable housing. The clean, attractive and well-maintained units currently operated by both organizations are important components of our local housing stock, but there are not enough. Wait lists are the norm.

Whether it’s young people seeking jobs here and wishing to become part of our community or retirees who have been here for years and wish to remain, we need to provide a spectrum of housing that all can afford.

Please vote yes. The ask is small, yet the return is huge.

Warren Tessler



Support for Yes4Housing

There seems to be some discussion about the Yes4Housing measure in terms of whether it proposes to serve low-income or working class earners. We can debate the intent of the language, but perhaps this isn’t such a sticking point when we consider the eligible participants include “at-risk” homeless as well as veterans, elderly or mentally ill citizens.

When one or two people in a family make minimum wage, that family unit is always at risk. Minimum wage jobs don’t always guarantee a 40-hour work week. It only takes one financially catastrophic event (like auto repairs) to get behind.

This measure seeks to aid those who are unable to afford housing at the premium rental prices Anacortes demands. Couple that with getting into a rental that requires a substantial amount down.

Why make it harder for people to seek a roof over their head? Do we need to wait until these folks are already in the streets before they are eligible for any assistance at all? Wouldn’t it be better to have a place that’s managed with child care and possible future mental health services? A penny for every $10 is a very small and nominal amount on the sales of goods and services. Let’s not be the city that said no to its people.

This is Anacortes. Anacortes has always been about community.

Kris Pelletier



Give affordable housing a boost with sales tax 

What does Anacortes need more of? Affordable housing. What have we been talking about for the last decade? How to provide it. Why is this important? Research shows there is a strong relationship between access to affordable housing and positive health outcomes.

Stable housing is the most important basic need that families have. Our community will only be enriched by the addition of these proposed projects.

The Anacortes Housing Authority and Anacortes Family Center have been taking care of the needs of families in crisis and providing them with affordable housing for a combined number of many years.

There are long waiting lists of good, hard-working local citizens who need housing. We all have someone in our family, or know of someone, who has struggled with finding housing. Anacortes citizens deserve to have a safe, affordable place to live so that they may continue to contribute to what makes this a desirable place to live.

On Feb. 11, we will have the occasion to bring more, much needed workforce housing to Anacortes. These three shovel-ready projects will not only increase our housing inventory but also bring necessary child-care into the arena as well as help to preserve an historical building that reflects the spirit of Anacortes.

We are a community that takes care of its own. Let’s not miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference. Join me in supporting the Yes4Housing campaign.

Tanna Baker



Don’t tap

taxpayers for more welfare

Each time I read or hear the words “tax(es)” and “opportunity” in the same paragraph, I immediately put my hand on my wallet.

There have been several eloquent and persuasive letters to the editor supporting the 0.1% increase in our sales tax, presumably, to create affordable housing. These arguments include discussions about the “state matching” contributions and “one-time-only opportunity” (there’s that word again). My first thought at hearing these phrases is that the state is running a blue-light special.

This is all our tax money, so anything matching from the state is something we already contributed to our governments. Taking money from your right pocket and placing it in your left doesn’t make you richer, but paying another 0.1% will make you poorer.

Last year, my wife and I paid over $7,000 in property taxes, the lion’s share going to local taxing districts. If this new permanent tax will only cost us $20 per household per year, why doesn’t the city or the school district tighten their belt just a little and utilize their budgets to fund affordable housing?

I suppose you could argue that it’s only a latte’ per quarter, but imagine the feelings of the coffee shop owners when they realize their annual sales will drop by over 29,000 units (7,300 households x 4). If my math serves, the $20 is based on $20,000 of taxable shopping per year, so if you buy a car, you will be well above that.

It is not the responsibility of the city to provide housing to anyone other than those who are incarcerated. Making people dependent on taxpayer largess is ill-advised and only makes them more dependent on government. The resulting vicious sinkhole will have us resembling Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia in short order.

If you wish to create affordable housing, donate to local governments or organizations fostering this type of development. Don’t run to the already overtaxed populace for these welfare programs as your first source of funds.

Bob Forman



Tax will help close housing  affordability gap

As a home builder in Anacortes for 27 years, I have been asked many times, “Why are investors not taking advantage of the high demand for affordable housing and building more multi-unit rental properties?”

The answer is a complex equation and boils down to this — very high construction and land costs. An investor can plan to spend $300,000 to build just one modest two-bedroom unit. 

For an investor to find this even remotely attractive, they would need to charge a minimum $1,500 per month. Not surprisingly the few two-bedroom units available for rent in Anacortes today rent for $1,500 or more.

This sales tax initiative aims to serve households that earn 60% of Anacortes median income or less, which is a maximum income of $47,460 annually for a family of four. So our hypothetical family of four can afford $1,186 a month, which means that market-value rentals are unaffordable for them. Many of the families this tax measure targets make much less, so current rentals are even more beyond their reach.

This affordability gap will continue to keep investors from building affordable units and force our local families to move outside of Anacortes for housing. This is happening now.

With an average cost of about $20 per year, per household, our community can take advantage of this one-time opportunity, $6.5 million dollars that could become available to the Anacortes Family Center and the Housing Authority, both proven community partners, allowing these nonprofit entities to provide and manage 45 housing units on properties they already own, helping to keep our community diverse and whole.

I will be voting yes on housing on Feb. 11. I hope you will too.

Nels Strandberg


Benefits of housing sales tax are huge

The ballot initiative to raise the sales tax in Anacortes by 0.1% is a unique opportunity to recover sales tax money for historic preservation, added childcare facilities and workforce housing for our town.

The increased tax would amount to 10 cents on $100 worth of taxable merchandise or services, or $40 on a $40,000 car, with a total cost estimated at about $20 per family per year.

It would generate around $6.5 million dollars to restore the Olson Building, build new public housing townhomes and apartments and build a child care facility for about 35 kids. The housing will be managed by the Anacortes Housing Authority and Anacortes Family Center, using state-mandated income criteria to choose tenants.

Most of the city’s sales tax revenue comes from boat and car sales and the sale of construction materials. Visitors who stay overnight, eat here, buy gas, shop here or use marine services here also contribute to our sales tax revenue.

The cost to Anacortes residents is minimal, and the benefits are huge. The lack of workforce housing and childcare are major deterrents to the economic development of our area. People who work here should be able to live here, and childcare spaces are critically short.

I urge a yes vote on this ballot measure.

Walter Guterbock




building wrong for Anacortes

The five-story apartment complex coming to our town at 18th Street and O Avenue will not be a welcome sight, but an eyesore in a residential neighborhood.

And it won’t be cheap. The 600-square-foot units could rent for $1,400 a month or more.

This project is by a Seattle developer. They don’t care about how this building will be out of place in a residential setting or that most of the population don’t want to see it here. They are in it for a profit.

If you don’t believe it, go to City Hall and look it up. It’s all public record.

Contact the mayor and your council person. Talk with them. Look into this project yourself. We need more housing. We need affordable housing. We need to protect our beautiful city. But a complex like what is coming will not do it.

Ed Gegen



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