Requiring a supermajority vote for tax and fee increases by the Pasco City Council might be a good idea, but now is not the time to push it.
After the election in November, five newcomers will join the seven-member city council. A decision of this magnitude should be made by the people who will be held accountable for it — not by those heading out the door.
The issue was raised by Pasco City Councilman Bob Hoffmann, who is among those who lost a re-election bid. He defended his suggestion at the city’s workshop meeting last week, and now the topic is on Monday’s council agenda.
Hoffmann told the Herald, “I’m looking at what the new council looks like — the members that are coming on, the members that are going off — and thinking that this would be a good safeguard.”
It seems he is trying to find a way to prevent the incoming council from recklessly raising fees. Bringing this proposal up now — after the election — is presumptuous at best and insulting at worst.
The new city council deserves the chance to set its own agenda without the outgoing group trying to set obstacles up before they leave.
Hoffmann’s plan is to put the supermajority proposal on the ballot as an advisory vote the next time there is an election in the city.
That way voters can weigh in on whether they want a 5-2 vote requirement instead of a 4-3 vote for tax and fee increases considered by the council.
Hoffmann noted that the supermajority rule has been adopted by other governing bodies throughout the state, including Yakima, Spokane, Spokane Valley and Pierce County.
Hoffmann also told the Herald the new council members are “very capable individuals, very intelligent, very motivated and they have great plans for the city.” But he also said they “don’t have the history of increases that have happened or the perspective when new increases are suggested or proposed.”
It appears he sees so many inexperienced candidates joining the council at once as a potential problem. Never mind it is the voters who wanted it this way.
Fortunately, others on the city council don’t appear to share Hoffmann’s view.
At the workshop session, city council members Saul Martinez, Rebecca Francik and Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins indicated they have faith the newcomers are capable of researching the issues and making thoughtful decisions.
Pasco City Councilman Al Yenney, who also is being replaced, said he thinks this year’s city council candidates were “one of the best groups” that had ever campaigned, and that he is excited for the future.
Even so, he said he would favor Hoffmann’s suggestion just to guard against a four-member block forming down the road. He said while he doesn’t expect that to happen with the new city council, he has seen it occur in other communities.
For us, it’s all about the timing. If requiring a supermajority vote is such a grand idea, why is it being brought up only now?
We understand why Hoffmann floated the proposal. But it needs to be dropped with a resounding thud come Monday’s city council meeting.