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Oak Harbor limits tax hike to 1 percent

With the dust settled around the Initiative 747 controversy, the Oak Harbor City Council set its property tax levy rate increase at 1 percent at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

The initiative, which was passed in 2001, placed a 1 percent lid — or the rate of inflation — on annual property tax increases.

Last month, the Washington Supreme Court deemed the initiative, which voters approved by a 58 percent margin, unconstitutional.

A Nov. 29 special one-day legislative session called by Governor Chris Gregoire was successful in reverting back to the I-747 limits. The rules preceding Tim Eyman’s initiative allowed up to a 6 percent increase and the city had to address the remaining 5 percent levy capacity.

The council agreed to delay setting its property tax levy rate until a definitive ruling had been sent down. The back and forth changes over the past few weeks prompted Finance Director Doug Merriman to prepare two ordinances, as at the time he was unsure of the special session’s outcome.

Assuaging Councilman Paul Brewer’s concerns, the finance director assured him the 5 percent increase previously discussed would no longer be considered.

“Outstanding,” Brewer said.

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