Kent’s Mayor Cooke appoints new Financial Sustainability Task Force

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke appoints members to the Financial Sustainability Task Force charged with providing recommendations on the city’s long-term financial sustainability.

In the wake of the City Council voting (1st) not to include a B&O Tax hike in the city of Kent’s 2015 budget as the Mayor had requested, and then (2nd) overriding the Mayor’s veto of an ordinance that will constrain the Mayor’s use of B&O taxes, Mayor Suzette Cooke announced at a July 22nd City Council meeting the appointees to Kent’s newly formed Financial Sustainability Task Force.
The task force is charged with educating and engaging the community, and providing recommendations on the city’s long-term financial sustainability. The City Council approved the Mayor’s appointees.

According to Mayor Cooke, Kent’s service-delivery model dates back to the 1960s and 1970s when the American economy was booming, state sales-tax laws favored warehouse/distribution centers, and tax-limiting initiatives were a couple decades away. “The economic landscape has changed,” said Cooke.

“The city’s share of property tax collections – our largest revenue source – is limited to growth of 1% per year. Inflation averages 3%. Additionally, in 2009 the state changed the way local sales tax revenue is allocated to cities. The new destination-based system eliminated most of the sales tax revenue generated from our local warehouses from profiting Kent – resulting in a loss to the city of $12 million per year. This is where the structural problem lies. We are asking the community, through this task force, to help us solve this challenge,” Cooke said.

The Task Force must prepare a draft report by May 1, 2016 for public review and comment, followed by a final report to the Mayor and City Council by June 30, 2016. The Task Force will disband at that time. The regular meeting dates and times will be determined by the members.