Higher property taxes for increased flood protection: Kittitas voters to decide

Higher property taxes for increased flood protection: Kittitas voters to decide »Play Video
KITTITAS COUNTY -- Flooding in Kittitas County over the years has caused millions of dollars in damage. Roads were destroyed and at their worst, people couldn't get to work.

Now, Kittitas County wants to take a proactive approach so it established a flood control district. Like a park or school district, it needs tax money.

Voters will decide in November whether to pay more property taxes and raise half a million dollars to help prevent extensive flood damage.

Neighbors like Mark Mclean said he wouldn't mind paying more.

"The floods block the roads and they hurt the roads that all the tax-payers have to pay for," said Mclean.

Homes worth $200,000 would see property taxes increase by about $15 a year. The money would be used to develop flood plains and create new water channels.

"That's what a flood control district does. It works with nature to try and anticipate what's going on, remove the impediments put in by mankind over the years," said Kittitas County Commissioner Obie O'Brien.

Money that's now collected in a road levy can't be used for this work.

"When you take money to fix a road because you have people who can't live, and get in and out because the road is gone. But now you're taking it aware from where you want to put it, which is like the public health district," said O'Brien.

Still, not everyone KIMA spoke with is on board with the plan.

Neighbors along Hanson Road say they don't want more taxes and that the county hasn't done anything about the flood-damaged road.

We went out to Hanson Road to see the problem firsthand; you can still see dislodged pieces of asphalt. It gives you an idea of just how destructive flooding can be.

"The taxpayers are going to have to pay one way or another. It seems to me that if you pay to actually get it fixed beforehand, you may have less money on the backside," said Mclean.

We'll see what voters decide in November.

Counties across the state already collect taxes for their own flood control zone districts. Yakima is one of those.