Ballot Measure From Port Authority Includes Massive Error
There appears to be a major discrepancy in a ballot measure going before voters in Chelan and Douglas counties.
The resolution from the Chelan Douglas Port Authority to authorize a unified property tax rate was intended to be 16.2 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The tax rate that appears on the ballot is .162, which Chelan County Auditor Skip Moore says would drastically reduce the rate the Port currently receives in both counties.
"Oh Geez, the tax rate wouldn't be a 100 percent cut, but it would be like 99 percent cut," said Moore.
If voters approve the ballot measure, the measure's language would drastically reduce the rate the Port currently receives in both counties, to about 1 percent.
It's not clear what will happen with the discrepancy as ballots were approved and mailed to voters almost two weeks ago.
Douglas County Auditor Thad Duvall says he's never seen a discrepancy of this magnitude.
"What will happen is we'll publish the election results, and then it will be up to someone, I suppose to contest the results of the election because of the clarity of the ballot," said Duvall. "But that's a legal issue that's going to have to be decided outside the auditor's office."
All six board members of the Chelan Douglas Port Authority signed off on the resolution that is on the ballot voters in both counties received.
Ballot measures run through an approval process at the county level, but there’s no mechanism for checking to see if ballot measure language matches the intention of the party submitting the resolution.
Both county auditors, Moore and Duvall, says they were alerted of the ballot measure discrepancy through an email from a voter on Thursday.
A bill passed unanimously in the state legislature this year allows the Port Authority to ask for voter approval of a unified tax levy rate on property owners in both counties.
The Chelan County’s 2022 tax levy rate is 17-and-a-half cents per $1,000 of assessed value while the Douglas County 2022 tax levy rate is 13.2 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The disparity dates back to when Chelan and Douglas County Port Districts were separate entities before consolidation into a regional Port District.
Under the intention of the Port Authority, the difference of 4.3 percent would be erased under the "rate equalization" with property owners in both counties paying an estimated 16.2 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
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