Opinion

Silverdale incorporation could impact South Kitsap

Perhaps this is the year Silverdale incorporates as a new city and reshuffles the deck for the rest of us.

A new city would shift some of the county’s sales tax revenue away from county government and to the city, so residents of unincorporated South Kitsap might see an impact on services provided to them by the county.

The county’s sales tax revenue increased through November of this year compared with last year more than the revenue going to the cities.

Probably this greater increase for the county came from the Silverdale commercial area, which would mean Silverdale businesses did better than those in cities in this slow economy.

If most of the sales tax revenue collected in the Silverdale area goes to a new city rather than the county, then county government would see both a drop in total revenue and perhaps less of a yearly increase in the future.

Up to now, about two-thirds of the county’s population lives outside the cities, and about two-thirds of total sales tax revenue goes to the county.

The county’s pattern of development over the years didn’t cause much of a problem, since the county’s share of revenue roughly matched its share of the population directly served by county government rather than cities.

A newly incorporated Silverdale would take some of the residents now in unincorporated areas of the county, but perhaps would upset the rough equivalence between revenue and population for county government.

Population isn’t the only factor affecting the cost of government services, but it does have an impact.

As the incorporation process continues toward an election to decide whether Silverdale incorporates, South Kitsap residents should pay attention to the information that comes out.

The impact on us could change the way people think about the prospect of being annexed into the city of Port Orchard in some future year.

Probably the most visible effect of Silverdale incorporation on county services would be a reduction in the number of sheriff’s deputies, especially if Silverdale takes a greater share of revenue than population from the unincorporated areas served by the deputies.

The impact on property taxes may reduce the likely tax increase that would result from being annexed into Port Orchard.

City residents don’t pay the county’s road fund levy, but they do pay the city’s property tax — and the city’s taxes on utilities.

This year, as in years past, Port Orchard’s levy is at a higher rate than the county’s road levy, so annexation would swap a lower county tax for a higher city tax on each property owner.

But the gap is narrowing as annexations occur, and would narrow even more if Silverdale incorporates.

The county road levy burden would still fall on residents of unincorporated areas, and it would be at a higher rate to collect the total amount from fewer property owners.

If Silverdale incorporates, the difference in property taxes for people who want to be annexed by Port Orchard may become negligible — leaving the city’s taxes on utilities as the main cause of any tax increase resulting from annexation.

What has been a situation in which few people in residential areas yearned to be annexed may become one that makes annexation seem preferable.

If Port Orchard prospers because of annexing commercial property areas in the immediate future, the prospect of annexation may seem even more attractive.

Of course, if voters in what could be a new city of Silverdale decide they like things the way they are, then what we in South Kitsap could gain from this entire process is merely a better understanding of the effect of living in a city.

Prior to their election, it’s likely that we will hear a lot as they debate among themselves the pros and cons of city living compared to living in an unincorporated area served by county government.

While their debates won’t all involve topics that pertain to our situation, chances are pretty good that some of what they discuss will help us prepare for the day when annexation into Port Orchard is an issue we decide.

 

Bob Meadows is a Port Orchard resident.

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