Benton County Commission meeting summary 11/16/21

Last week Commissioner McKay was jumping up and down opposing a sales tax and saying wait another year before helping with our local in-patient mental health facility. This week he didn’t even raise an eyebrow when it came to approving the 1% increase in property taxes.

Last week Mr. Devlin had to remind Mr. McKay the vote was what the constituents wanted, not what he wanted. McKay didn’t care and voted against it then left in a huff.  We really needed that same voice this week. 

Increased property tax is a mandate that never goes away and like a pay raise is compounding for other increases.  

The city, schools and county are making lots of money with increased home values now. Not to mention COVID funding for many city revitalization projects. No one was there to mention that, nor did any Commissioner mention it. 

People with home loans use escrow to pay local taxes.  Property tax is easy tax to overlook because escrows only go up a few bucks per month with a 1% increase.

Just looking at Richland, strange land and improvement valuations penalize small Richland businesses and landowners. For instance, WalMart, Target and Home Depot in Queensgate are assessed at around $200,000 an acre while Fat Olives’ and Atomic’s lots in central Richland are valued at the equivalent of about $350,000 an acre. The .18 acre under Amethyst Creamery at Lee Street and George Washington Way is assessed at the equivalent of almost a $1 million an acre.

Some riverfront homeowners in North Richland are assessed at the equivalent of about $650,000 an acre while the riverfront Hampton Inn’s four acres comes in at about $375,000 an acre. The city-owned 20.10 acres under the Riverfront Hotel is assessed at about $275,000 an acre.

Many states offer seniors property tax relief but Washington only offers discounts to impoverished senior homeowners. Seniors in Washington find the dream of paying off the house a small relief once they see property tax and insurance is much of the bill. If McKay wants to be a Tax Czar he needs to be that way all the time. 

The Benton County Historical Preservation grants were awarded and here’s how that went. 

A total of 10 grants were received asking for $85k. The budget includes $81K with $50K available for grants. The county granted $55K.  The grant application period was from September 7 to October 8 2021. Here are the winners!

Benton County Museum a display board $4700

Benton County Revitalization Or History Kiosks $7834

It’s a Benton County Historical Society Remote Museum access $10,250

Evergreen Cemetery Benton City Cemetery Preservation $1500

Kennewick Historical Preservation Comm Survey of East Kennewick homes $12,900

Kennewick Pro. Firefighters Local 1296 Restore old fire trucks $6500

Kiona-Benton Historical Society Film of old Benton/Kiona city area. $8000

Reach Museum Outdoor Exhibits $2500

White Bluffs Quilt Museum New Quilt shelf $1721.95

If you submit an application for Historical Grant, don’t make it for cleaning and maintenance.  The requests that were denied included those.

Congratulations to all of you for helping the community!

A Proclamation was announced in honor of  Victor Lee Murphy on  becoming 100 years old this week!  Nice, now you really ought to get a property tax discount Mr. Murphy!

*I am Mike Lowery and will be helping the Observer cover events in Benton County. I have
spent about 25 years of my 60 year life in the Tri-Cities, most in Richland. After Army and a
short career working on boats I went on to college at CBC. Then I worked 15 years on
commercial nuclear power plants. We moved back to Tri-Cities and been in Richland for 20
years. I tried to help Hanford for 18 years. I have three degrees from Columbia Basin College,
yes that’s weird. Studied economics and religion at Liberty University, St. Leos College in FL,
University of Illinois, University of Washington more at CBC. House dad now to my working wife, two cats and a dog. Our boy’s all work and study in the northwest. I spend time riding my electric bike or crashing it, building small wood and metal projects, enjoying Electronic Music and camping. Writing is something I love to do but not very good at it.