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Town property taxes hew to 2 percent

"Hurrah for Coupeville property owners.While Oak Harbor leaders are talking about raising property taxes by as much as they legally can, the people who run the show in Coupeville are talking about the status quo.During a budget workshop Tuesday night, councilors came to the preliminary conclusion that they will raise the town's share of property taxes by 2 percent. That's less than the state's Implicit Price Deflater, which is basically the inflation rate for the year. It's been set at 2.61 percent. If the council ends up adopting the 2 percent hike, it will be the second year in a row that the council adopted less than the maximum 6 percent allowed by current law. Before that, Mayor Nancy Conard said as far as we look back at records, it was a 6 percent increase.The council bucked that trend last year after some citizens jeered and complained at a council meeting about their property taxes. But they're not talking about giant sums of money, relatively speaking. Conard said the 2 percent increase will bring in an extra $4,500 to the town. Since there was an unusual amount of development in the last year - a dozen or so significant projects - Conard said the town's in for an extra $5,600 from new construction.Conard prepared a budget message for the council. It says: The budget maintains the existing staff; no staff increases are planned. A cost of living salary increase is proposed to match the Implicit Price Deflator, 2.6%. Expected increases in employee health insurance are estimated at 40%, which we hope is a worst case scenario. The council members perused a budget proposal during the workshop that the staff prepared assuming that the tax increase would be 2.61 percent. If the council holds on to 2 percent, then $1,372 will have to be cut from the budget.That, Conard exclaimed, won't be a problem.--------Tax refundsThe Internal Revenue Service wants to give money away to Whidbey Island residents.The IRS is trying to locate a handful of local folks who still haven't received tax refund checks this year. That includes nine refund checks for couples or individuals with Oak Harbor addresses, including the following: Daniel A. and Robin L. Bowden; Charles R. and Constance W. Brecht, James F. and Charita E. Brown; Larry D. and Valerie R. Bryant; Josiah Grove; Alejandro A. Lerma; Marjean McDonald; Glenda Waterman-Gosselin; and Kelly J. and Stacy R. Carlson.The Whidbey Island residents due IRS cash are some of the 2,643 Washington taxpayers who have yet to receive their refund checks. The average amount of Washington residents' unclaimed refunds is $683. Most frequently, people move and the tax refunds come back to the IRS as undeliverable.The IRS can be reached at (800) 829-1040. "

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