The city of Kent doesn’t want to compete with an 8.9-mill school levy on the May 7 ballot, so officials will wait to ask voters to reconsider last fall’s failed income tax increase request.
City Manager Dave Ruller this week recommended that City Council hold off on a second attempt to get funding for a new police station. The council gave him unanimous support.
“We really don’t want to go head to head with another important community issue,” Ruller said.
In November, voters rejected a request to increase the city’s income tax from 2 percent to 2.25 percent in order to raise $1.3 million for the design and construction of a new police department.
The current building at Water Street and Haymaker Parkway is 88 years old. It would cost about $18 million to replace, officials have said.
Just as important as avoiding conflict with the school levy, Ruller said, waiting would give the city more time to analyze what went wrong in the fall, when the issue failed by a vote of 5,490 to 4,486.
“We would like the time to digest and understand what we need to do to reformat it ... and put it in a position that council would be comfortable with,” Ruller said. “Obviously, the need doesn’t go away ... but we can have a more thoughtful discussion.”
Some city officials were concerned that the last tax request had no end date. Officials estimated it would take about 30 years to pay off the debt, but the tax request was set up to collect indefinitely, with later money used for improvements to streets and sidewalks.
The council supported Ruller’s decision to skip the May ballot, but he added that it could decide to attempt something earlier than November.