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Want to be official yea or nay-sayer on tax vote?

4:11 pm June 28th, 2012

The Pierce County Council is inviting citizens to sign up for the volunteer job of writing statements that support and oppose a proposal to require a two-thirds vote of the council for any tax increases by the county.

The citizens will be members of committees assigned to write official “for” and “against” statements that will be published in the county voters pamphlet. The pamphlet will be mailed to voters before the general election in November, which is when the ballot measure will be voted on.

The measure, which the council authorized in May,  calls for an amendment to the county charter. If approved, the amendment would require at least five of the seven council members to approve new taxes after Jan. 1, 2013. A simple majority of four  is all that’s required now.

Under state law, the council can appoint as many as three members to each of the two committees to write proponent and opponent statements for the voters pamphlet. Applicants can submit letters of interest by July 2 to Denise Johnson, clerk of the council, at 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma, WA 98402. Letters can also be e-mailed to Johnson at djohnso@co.pierce.wa.us.

A spokesman said the council plans to make the appointments at a public hearing on July 10.

The committees will have until Aug. 7 to finish their work and submit the ballot statements to the county auditor, the office that publishes the voter pamphlet.

The county charter, similar to a constitution, guides the county’s home rule form of government.

Changes to the charter of the type the council is asking voters to approve are normally channeled through the county’s Charter Review Commission. The commission meets at least every 10 years to consider revisions of the charter and submit proposed changes to voters in the form of ballot measures.

In the 5-2 council vote May 29 to send the supermajority proposal directly to voters, council members Tim Farrell and Rick Talbert cast dissenting votes. They expressed a preference for having the review commission involved in the potential change in the council’s decisionmaking on new taxes.

Talbert noted the commission could convene next year or in 2014 and said he’d rather delay the supermajority question until then.

The change being sent to voters for the Nov. 6 election was initially proposed by Councilman Roger Bush, whose council district constituency includes the Graham and Eatonville areas.

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