Opinion

Let's clarify: we do our fair share | My Turn

In response to Sandra Gill's numerous, and unanswered, letters to the Kent Reporter, I feel it is finally time for a response.

Ms. Gill, to be blunt, is misinformed on what businesses are required to pay. She continually has stated that businesses need to pay their "fair share" (a politically charged "buzz term" from our last election).

It is also a term that has been used to segregate large segments of our population. Here it is being used to entice a form of class warfare in our community by pitting a conflict between the regular (homeowner) citizenry against its business community.

Well, Ms. Gill, since you appear to be so completely misinformed, let me enlighten you, and any followers you have, of what one locally owned, small business, among many, is required to pay.First, there is our new B&O tax. It will cost in 2013, over $5,700 per year, and this amount is not the "next to zero" figure your letter, dated Nov. 30, stated regarding business' expenses. And in case you weren't up on this fact, businesses did not get the option to vote on this new 8&0 tax, nor do residents have to pay it.

Residents at least got to vote on Proposition 1. And should we note that Prop 1 was defeated by the residents, which outnumber the business owners by a great majority. And should we also note that if it had passed, that business owners would have had to pay their "fair share" of Proposition 1 (in addition), just like the residents.

Second, there is the Regional Fire Authority (RFA) and Fire Benefit Charge (FBC). A home valued at $300,000 will pay $300 per year for the RFA, and a 2,700-square-foot home will be charged approximately $234.47 per year for the FBC. Our business will pay $3,946.40 for the RFA and $5,285.81 for the FBC. Doesn't that demonstrate that businesses are paying their "fair share," and at a rate much higher than the average homeowner?Thirdly, just to further enlighten you, there is the portion of our property taxes that are paid to the city. The average homeowner in Kent will pay $411.88 per year to the city of Kent from their property taxes. Our business will pay $6,188.53 to the city this year.

I believe that further demonstrates our proportion of "fair share" for the city's infrastructure, proving again that businesses payout much more than the average homeowner. By the way, this is on top of the B&O tax for road repairs.

And while we are speaking of road taxes, our small business has nothing to do with the 18-wheeler semi-trucks that you say are responsible for all the damaged roads. We have little problem with paying our "fair share" for the road repairs, but how much do homeowner's pay for the road repairs that they drive on every day? Eighteen-wheelers only travel on a few of the roads in this community, and usually roads that are co-shared and maintained by either the county or the state.

Lastly, if we haven't already made our point, there is the storm drainage charge. Residents pay a monthly storm drainage fee of $10.56. This equals $126.72 per year. Our business pays over $750 per month for storm drainage. This totals up to over $9,300 per year. This rate will increase by 5 percent in 2013, a 53-cent increase per month for residents, but a $39.16 increase per month for us.

So Ms. Gill, businesses are paying their "fair share" – and more – for maintaining this city's infrastructure, and making your roads safer. But businesses are dealing with the same struggling economy that homeowners are.

Remarks you make about Kent businesses are very disparaging. In the last month, two businesses on our street closed down. Gone, out of business.

If more businesses close because they can't make ends meet, possibly due to the new B&O, higher utility rates, etc., what will happen to Kent's economy and work force? Kent has seen a loss of 4,400 manufacturing jobs since 2000.

Your negative diatribe about Kent businesses and their failure to meet their "fair share" of responsibilities to the city (and particularly you, a resident) couldn't be further from the truth. The Kent business community is, and has always been a responsible contributor to the infrastructure, funding for all aspects of this city, and to a greater degree than homeowners. Residents utilize the same roads, parks, water, sewer and storm drainage system as the businesses. They utilize them probably a lot more, yet pay far less than the business community.So why don't we just stop here. All of us within this city have a "fair share" responsibility to make our city's infrastructure work. We don't need "class warfare" – Kent residents vs. Kent businesses tearing this city apart.

The real problem here is that our fair city made the decision years ago to go into commercial business ... the Riverbend Golf course and the 5hoWare Center. They have become anchors. Take them out of the equation and Kent will be just fine, without all the extra taxes and fees. But I cannot comment here how to fix that problem. But I do know ... it will take all of us ... working together and living together in this community.

– Nadia Ahmed

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