Tale of two mayoral candidates

I attended the December Kent City Council meeting to better understand the proposed operating budget and why a potential increase in property taxes would be needed.

One of my takeaways is how easy the 2017 decision for mayor will be.

In 2015, Councilwoman Dana Ralph created an ordinance that ensured to the business community, the B&O tax that the city of Kent implemented, would be used exclusively for road repairs and some administrative burden. This was greeted positively by businesses. As we all know, the roads in our city are terribly in need of service.

In previous years, the City Council passed an ordinance to set a general reserve or “rainy day fund,” to cover any budget shortfalls, should an unforeseen capital expense be necessary or the economy experience headwinds; i.e. as in 2008-2010, this was approved by council members and set at 10 percent.

The mayor appointed a financial sustainability task force to prioritize where budget dollar spend should be prioritized; our city parks didn’t make the top five; while important, they were aptly prioritized behind policing, public works, roads, water and sewer and IT.

During the meeting last month, Ralph introduced a budget amendment that would reverse course and use ($2 million of) B&O tax revenue for parks and not its 2015 communicated and committed use – roads.

Effectively, Ralph is looking to re-prioritize parks above really important issues like public safety, public works and roads.

At that same council meeting, Councilman Jim Berrios came up with a plan to find additional funding for our parks without alienating our business community by going back on its word as it relates to use of funds. His amendment would utilize the surplus reserve while still maintaining a reserve that is greater than the council’s mandate of 10 percent. Berrios’ plan achieves the same end goal as Ralph’s amendment without increasing taxes or reallocating funds that have been committed to other projects, most notably the roads.

I have to say, from watching Ralph in action, it felt like a “business as usual” politician whose only answer is to raise taxes. Ralph is neglecting the business community by going back on her word and looking to appropriate B&O funds for purposes other than what they were intended.

In that same meeting, I observed Berrios in the role of problem solver and a person who understands the business of government and budget spending.

My takeaway: I want our highest elected Kent officer to display integrity in everything they do, from keeping their word to increasing our quality of life and safety.

When you compare the actions and approach of Ralph and Berrios, it really is a simple decision, Berrios will represent the residents and businesses of Kent with integrity and great solutions.

– Jerry W. Hardt

More in Letters to the Editor

Regional fire authority well worth our support

I am a Kent resident of two years and a former resident… Continue reading

Vote yes on Prop 1

These days it seems more fashionable to cast stones and criticize than… Continue reading

We need efficiency with our tax dollars

It would appear that our local government and service agencies are not… Continue reading

No more tax increases

The city of Kent has and is continuing to look for a… Continue reading

Getting by on limited means

With the exception of education and health care, nothing could be more… Continue reading

When does the taxpayer and property owner get a break?

Using the Kent Reporter (April 6) and the Puget Sound Regional Fire… Continue reading

The Facebook problem

How did this social-media behemoth evolve from a college project to an… Continue reading

What do freedom, patriotism really mean?

In an effort to convince enough Americans to vote against their own… Continue reading

Keep Kent safe, support Proposition A

National concerns about public safety, such as the Parkland, Fla., occurrence, simply… Continue reading

Most Read