We really should have had a vote on this.
On November 21, 2022 our Camas City Council passed a 2% utility tax, placing our city among the ranks of other cities like Vancouver that are taxing residents up to 40%. This utility tax was approved on a slim 4-3 vote and with a two-year sunset provision, but that is no guarantee of retirement as the City reserves the right to increase the percentage of the the tax as they see fit as long as it's an option.
The financial implications and burden this tax places on Camas residents is more than residents should be asked to bear.
A group of Camas residents have banded together in referendum to push this decision forward to a vote by all Camas residents.
This utility tax is not needed to balance the city budget.
The city has cash and cash equivalent assets of over $100,000,000. The city could have fully-funded the 2023-24 budget without the utility tax. Instead, it chose to seize the opportunity to impose this tax at a time of increasing inflation and economic uncertainty, while continuing to sit on significant reserves. The passing of the tax really should have been a last resort, not a first reaction to a string of poor decision-making that continues to impact our city.
Look at what the City of Vancouver has done with its utility tax - pushed it to a 28.9% rate on its taxpaying residents.
The city tells us this utility tax, approved at 2%, has short-term value and will allow for the hiring of additional city staff and to cover shortcomings of the City of Washougal’s refusal to pay for contracted Fire services, but we believe it’s the long term revenues that they are really after. You see, this tax can be increased over time with Council approval. Don’t think that Vancouver rates can’t happen here in Camas - now that the door has been opened, it absolutely can!
Sending the vote to the public is the right thing
The vote to approve this tax was not a consensus vote by our City Council. The 4-3 split vote was made after many Camasonians from all walks of life came to the table, unified in opposition and delivering testimony about the impact this tax will have on them. How well is your council representative speaking for you?