Incoming Yakima council member plans to support tax overturn - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Incoming Yakima council member plans to support utility tax overturn

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YAKIMA, Wash-  It's looking more and more like the Yakima City Council's vote to impose a utility tax increase was in vain.  At their Tuesday night meeting, council member Rick Ensey said he planned to get the utility tax overturned next year, and it looks like he has the votes to do it.

If Ensey brings the tax increase up in January and votes no as he has promised to do,  there will be three against it (Ensey, Dave Ettl, Bill Lover) and three in favor (Kathy Coffey, Maureen Adkison, and Micah Cawley). 

The swing vote will go to incoming council member Sara Bristol who's replacing Dave Edler next year.  Bristol said that if given the chance, she'll vote to overturn the council's action to implement the tax even if it means cutting six police, one fire fighter, the assistant city manager, and other jobs the tax was supposed to save.

"My decision would be to vote no on the utility tax", says Bristol. 

When asked if the city can afford to have less public safety, she replied, "I think we have to because we don't have any more money".

Ensey surprised the council last night after voting yes on the utility tax and saying he only did it so he'd be allowed to reverse his vote next year.  It turns out that wasn't necessary at all because any member can re-introduce an issue regardless of how they previously voted on it.

  Ensey, and the other no votes did say they'd support letting voters decide on the utility tax increase.  Because of this uncertainty, the city manager has advised both chiefs not to start the hiring process until after Ensey makes his move.

The utility tax is scheduled to be included in the 2012 budget which must be passed by the end of the year.  However if in January Ensey, Ettl, Lover and Bristol succeed in reversing the council's decision to implement the tax, they will have unbalanced the budget again.