Douglas County Commissioners are protesting a property tax increase they certified Monday. 

They claim state legislation authorizing a unified tax district for the Chelan Douglas Port Authority is flawed, and that the Port illegally increased the tax rate in Douglas County. 

They also say the Port's ballot measure in last month's election misled voters by appearing to lower the property tax rate. 

Douglas County Commissioners are urging residents to file lawsuits against the tax hike. 

The three commissioners, Dan Sutton, Kyle Steinburg and Marc Straub, signed a statement of protest issued Monday after they certified the property tax increase. 

They say the bill from the state legislature authorizing the unified tax district for the Chelan Douglas Port Authority didn’t go into effect until July 27, 2023, but required the Port to pass a resolution authorizing the unified property tax levy no later than July 1.  

The commissioners claim the legislation is invalid. 

They also say the Port Authority is not a legally consolidated district, even though it operates as one, because voters did not approve the merger. 

The commissioners claim any measure that allows one jurisdiction (Chela County) to dictate the tax rates of another (Douglas County) is illegal and unconstitutional. 

They further claim the ballot measure passed last month to levy an equal property tax in each county was flawed. 

The levy rate printed on the ballots and within the Voter’s guide refers to the proposed rate as “approximately 0.164 cents/ $1,000 of assessed value for both districts.”  

The commissioners say the rate, as printed, represents a significant decrease from the existing rate of 13.7 cents/$1,000 for Douglas County.  

A public statement released by the Port contends that the rate was intended to be 16.4 cents/$1,000 and that the misprint was a simple scrivener’s error.  

Douglas County commissioners say all parties must agree before a scrivener’s error is allowed, which they did not. 

They say some voters told them they voted in favor of the tax levy, believing it was a decrease to their taxes. 

In addition, the commissioners say the drafting of the ballot measure was in violation of the law. 

They say the Port stated that they themselves prepared this ballot language, which breaks a law requiring ballot language for a Port measure to be prepared by the prosecuting attorney of the county where the majority (population) of the entity is located (Chelan County).  

The commissioners add the ballot measure passed despite being rejected by 72% of Douglas County voters, showing an alarming trend of disenfranchisement of the constituents of Douglas County.  

They said without the requirement for measures to be passed by both Counties, not just a simple majority of voters, Douglas County is increasingly losing the ability to shape its community. 

The commissioners' statement of protest concludes by stating, "We encourage aggrieved parties to pursue avenues to find relief from the problematic effects to voters." 

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