Mid-Week Open Thread (2012-07-11)

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Here is your open thread for the mid-week on July 11th, 2012. You may post random links and off-topic discussions here. Also, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like to see covered in an article, please make it known.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

29 comments:

  1. 1
    Pegasus says:

    Normandy Park in dire financial straits, may merge with neighbors

    The city of Normandy Park has run into some big financial problems and plans to ask residents to raise their property taxes or it may have to merge with neighboring cities or become part of King County.

    The city of about 6,500 residents between Des Moines and Burien says it cannot continue to operate the way it does right now. It’s running out of money and has already laid off one-third of its employees.
    The city needs $1.2 million to adequately fund day-to-day services like law enforcement.

    http://www.king5.com/news/local/Normandy-Park-financial-trouble-162053285.html

  2. 2

    RE: Pegasus @ 1

    I See Far Less Kent Police Cars Patrolling Now Than a Few Years Ago

    Albeit the 2012 15% increase in my property taxes seems to be a moot point [except to SWE’s pocket book]. Kent collects taxes from sales tax, phones, cable, garbage, etc, etc and the revenues are obviously plummetting anyway. The Seattle area economy is booming?

    “…For every $1,000 spent on retail goods there is a sales tax of $95 which is distributed as follows:

    •Washington State $65.00 (68.4%)
    •City of Kent $8.50 (8.9%)
    •King County $ 3.50 (3.7%)
    •Metro Transit District $8.00 (8.4%)
    •Regional Transit (RTA) $9.00 (9.5%)
    •Criminal Justice Programs $1.00 (1.1%)
    Tax is collected by Washington State, and distributed two months later to other government entities….”

    http://www.ci.kent.wa.us/content.aspx?id=1358

  3. 3
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Pegasus @ 1 – Cities are declaring bankruptcy with increasing frequency. San Bernadino has been one recent example. If property tax revenues are back down to say year 2000 levels, hypothetically, it seems that hacking 1/3 of the workforce goes beyond 2000 levels (an assumption.) Several blogsters blame mounting pension costs which do not go away. It would be interesting to know what the specifics are for Normandy Park.

  4. 4
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 3 – Getting these municipalities to fess up as to the real problems such as huge public employee wages and benefits is difficult at best. They always threaten with reducing police and fire forces. San Bernardino was a bit different. Scranton, Pa. is pretty dire. Many more to come.

  5. 5

    California and Washington have entirely different tax systems, so it would be hard to compare what the cities face.

  6. 6
    pfft says:

    By Pegasus @ 4:

    RE: Blurtman @ 3 – Getting these municipalities to fess up as to the real problems such as huge public employee wages and benefits is difficult at best.

    link please.

    everything study I read says that public sector employees make less than their private sector counterparts.

  7. 7
    Tatiana Kalashnikov says:

    Police and Fire employees in California municipalities got obscene pension increases in the last 15 years. Most will never see all the money they were foolishly promised. I expect the next big shoe to drop will be L.A.

    Police officers and fire fighters often retire in their 50’s and many will receive retirement payments for 30+ years. It is not sustainable. L.A. will do B.K.

    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/04/30/los-angeles-teeters-on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy/

  8. 8
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 7 – Rising costs push California cities to fiscal brink

    Morris, a former judge elected on an anti-gang platform, says the city may have to dissolve its Fire Department or portions of the Police Department, an unavoidable reality when public safety accounts for nearly 75% of the general fund budget. The city would then contract with county and state agencies for those services.

    “I think all possibilities should be on the table,” Morris said. “That includes privatizing services; that includes regionalizing services.”

    Steve Tracy, a fire engineer and spokesman for the city firefighters union, said San Bernardino’s labor groups already gave up $10 million in concessions. He blamed the financial crisis on the mayor and former city manager spending money on such pet projects as a new downtown movie theater.

    “Before you start putting blame on the labor groups, get your own fiscal house in order,” Tracy said.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-san-bernardino-bankruptcy-20120712,0,2433019.story

  9. 9
    Pegasus says:

    RE: pfft @ 6 – “everything study I read says that public sector employees make less than their private sector counterparts.”

    You need to take a course in reading comprehension…..maybe grammar, too.

    “everything study I read says”

  10. 10
    Tatiana Kalashnikov says:

    On this subject, political ideologies don’t matter. There is not enough money to pay for all of the pensions and medical care. So the money that the cities and counties do have wil be allocated according to B.K. Court edicts. Everyone will get less than planned. There really is no need to debate this. Bankruptcy is a federal matter and we will watch hundreds of city and county entities deal with it.

  11. 11
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 10 – The vindication of Meredith Whitney? Now there is a stereotypical WASP for you. Not that anything is wrong with that.

    She may be correct about the risk of MUNI’s.

  12. 12

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 10

    So True

    That Tea Party method of “cut them not me” is a complete joke, all costs must be butcher axed in unison….no sacred cows.

    We may be able to borrow [kick the can] and delay the inevitable; but without stable/necessary fish, water and trees abundance, the loan collateral becomes just an IOU and to quote Dr Roubini, we’re enterring the “perfect storm” in 2013.

  13. 13

    Hey, Slightly Off Topic

    But still impacts Seattle, especially Oregon from map:

    A Great Depression type Dust Bowl now looms over America, we’re out of water folks:

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/us-natural-disaster-area-drought-150130308.html

  14. 14
    pfft says:

    By Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 7:

    Police and Fire employees in California municipalities got obscene pension increases in the last 15 years. Most will never see all the money they were foolishly promised. I expect the next big shoe to drop will be L.A.

    Police officers and fire fighters often retire in their 50’s and many will receive retirement payments for 30+ years. It is not sustainable. L.A. will do B.K.

    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/04/30/los-angeles-teeters-on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy/

    bankers often retire earlier…

  15. 15
    pfft says:

    By Pegasus @ 9:

    RE: pfft @ 6 – “everything study I read says that public sector employees make less than their private sector counterparts.”

    You need to take a course in reading comprehension…..maybe grammar, too.

    “everything study I read says”

    I’ll just assume you attacked my grammar because you don’t have anything to add. You also made a mistake in your sentence too…

  16. 16
    pfft says:

    By Blurtman @ 11:

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 10 – The vindication of Meredith Whitney?

    no. nobody said there weren’t problems, just that they weren’t as bad a were thought.

    returns are pretty good even for CA.

    Vanguard CA Interm-Term Tax-Exempt
    http://quote.morningstar.com/fund/f.aspx?Country=USA&ss=gf&Symbol=VCAIX

  17. 17
    Pegasus says:

    RE: pfft @ 15 – Actually I was attacking your claim that everything you read says public employees get less in wages and benefits than their civilian counterparts while there are many, many studies out there that are common knowledge that prove your claim is baloney. Try Google…

  18. 18
    Pegasus says:

    JPMorgue analysts expect national home prices to rebound 12% over the next four years.

    “We believe that, nationally, home prices have hit a bottom, and we continue to project a gradual recovery path for the next few years,” according to a report from the banking analysts this week.

    “Of course, given the large supply and volume of continuing delinquencies, we expect it will take years to work through all the defaults, but significant progress is being made, which gives us reason to be more bullish on housing than we have been for years,” the analysts said.

    http://www.housingwire.com/news/chase-analysts-expect-home-prices-rise-12-2016

  19. 19
    Blurtman says:

    RE: pfft @ 16 – Stay tuned. Cities can’t print.

  20. 20

    In Normandy Park’s case, there’s a lack of diversity in how the city gets it’s revenue. There’s very little retail, no industrial, mostly residential, with a small population, and even though it’s actually a nice place, they’re in a part of King County where property values have gone done a lot more than others.
    But what’s interesting is that the county is trying desperately to get out of the business of providing services to the unincorporated areas, and encouraring them to join the neighboring cities. White Center residents are going to vote this fall on annexing to Burien, and Skyway/Lakeridge/Bryn Mawr will be voting this fall whether to annex to Renton or not. So I’m sure the county will do everything they can to prevent Normandy Park from disincorporating.

  21. 21
    Pegasus says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 20 – What do you think was/is the cause of this sudden reality…..constantly rising wages and benefits for public employees and services that were added that did not exist a few years ago? Their property tax base was pretty stable and I see nothing else that could be the factor that is breaking the camel’s back. The residents enjoy a far superior income compared to most of the state and the houses are for the most part upper scale especially for South King Co. Please enlighten me if you have any information that can shed a light on this situation.

  22. 22
    pfft says:

    By Pegasus @ 17:

    RE: pfft @ 15 – Actually I was attacking your claim that everything you read says public employees get less in wages and benefits than their civilian counterparts while there are many, many studies out there that are common knowledge that prove your claim is baloney. Try Google…

    are you going to put forth a source?

    can’t find the state and local data but it’s similar to the Federal data.

    Federal employees make average 26 percent less than private workers, Labor agency reports
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/federal-employees-make-average-26-percent-less-than-private-workers-labor-agency-reports/2011/11/04/gIQAse5emM_blog.html?tid=sm_btn_twitter

  23. 23
    Pegasus says:

    RE: pfft @ 22 – Included in your own source…

    Salaries and benefits—for identical jobs—are 30 percent to 40 percent higher in the federal government than in the private sector. Claims that this dramatic discrepancy in compensation is warranted because of government workers’ high skills are unjustified, as this study shows.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/07/inflated-federal-pay-how-americans-are-overtaxed-to-overpay-the-civil-service

  24. 24
    ChrisM says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 20 – “But what’s interesting is that the county is trying desperately to get out of the business of providing services to the unincorporated areas, and encouraging them to join the neighboring cities.”

    Ira – interesting comment. If the county shunts all communities over to the cities, what then would they do?

  25. 25

    RE: ChrisM @ 24
    The county wants to get rid of the unincorporated “urban” areas, so if they were successful , they’d still administer the unincorporated rural areas and still collect all the property taxes, etc.

  26. 26

    Isn’t one of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?
    On that note, this Saturday 1 PM at Bergen Place in the heart of Ballard, the annual lutefisk eating contest will take place. Top prize is 250 dollars. second prize is 150 dollars, and third prize is 50 dollars. All you have to do is swallow several pounds of several week old ,smelly, lye cured fish that resembles sticky fish jello faster than other people.
    I finished third last year, and second the year before that. I will be entering, but not because I enjoy the taste or texture.

  27. 27
    pfft says:

    By Pegasus @ 23:

    RE: pfft @ 22 – Included in your own source…

    Salaries and benefits�for identical jobs�are 30 percent to 40 percent higher in the federal government than in the private sector

    you don’t understand. Government workers on average are more experienced, have been at their job longer and are better educated than the average worker.

  28. 28

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 25:

    RE: ChrisM @ 24
    The county wants to get rid of the unincorporated “urban” areas, so if they were successful , they’d still administer the unincorporated rural areas and still collect all the property taxes, etc.

    Perhaps ChrisM could benefit by throwing out some areas as examples.

    Much of Skyway is unincorporated, but driving through there it would be hard (impossible without signs) for someone to tell where Seattle ends and then when Renton starts. The area in-between is basically the same as what is Seattle and what is Renton, and because of its density it requires a lot of Sheriff resources. What it lacks to make it attractive to a city is a significant amount of retail business (sales tax revenue).

    Much of Fairwood and parts south are also unincorporated, although that is not necessarily due to the lack of trying. Kent and Renton have both been grabbing up area. At least twice Fairwood tried to incorporate as a separate city.

    Part of the problem is that people living in unincorporated areas like living in unincorporated areas. I thing both Ira and I have mentioned that store in Skyway that had the drug dealer infested apartment across the street. The store was in unincorporated King County and the apartment in Seattle. The Sheriff did a lot more to control the situation than the SPD. Or on more mundane topics, parts of Renton have garbage pickup every other week, and people in the unincorporated areas prefer once a week.

  29. 29
    ChrisM says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 28 – Thanks Kary. That was helpful.

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