Off the Press

May 25, 2010

Finding sweet neutrality in sour tax debate

The humble licorice stick might not look like much — some corn syrup and Red 40 shaped into a familiar twist.

The cherry-cough-syrup flavor, tooth-aching sweetness and electric hue put the twist into a particular genus: candy.

Come June 1, however, the state will reorder the entire candy taxonomy. The shift will split Good & Plenty from Good & Fruity, Peanut M&Ms from the just-released Pretzel M&Ms and Milky Way from the bittersweet Milky Way Midnight.

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

Moreover, every nib and rope of licorice — Red Vines, Twizzlers and the like — will no longer be classified as candy. The same applies for Good & Plenty, Pretzel M&Ms and the dark chocolate Milky Way.

Scan the ingredients list and — aha! — the noncandy-candy items include flour. Because the sweets contain grain, the state considers licorice and other treats to be food — and not candy.

Legislators opted to tax candy and gum — as well as soda and bottled water — to help plug a $2.8 billion budget hole. State and local sales taxes do not apply to food — or most food, anyway. (Washington diners pay sales tax for restaurant meals and other prepared foods.)

Unsurprisingly, the response to the looming hikes has been more sour than sweet. But I plan to remain blessedly neutral.

I happen to adore licorice. Other children preferred chocolate; I reached for the Twizzlers Nibs. In the red-or-black licorice debate, I come down on the red side, although black beguiles me, too. Read more

County Council asks for opinions about proposed tax increase

May 16, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. May 16, 2010

King County Council members want residents’ input about a proposed sales tax hike.

County Executive Dow Constantine proposed increasing the sales tax to two-tenths of a percent in order to stem future cuts to public safety, public health services and the county court system.

The council will hold a public hearing on the measure at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the 10th-floor Council Chambers at the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle. The hearing will be carried live on King County TV, Comcast and Broadstripe Cable channel 22. Watch the hearing live online here.

The proposal aims to raise the tax on retail purchases to 9.7 cents for $1 spent. For restaurant and bar purchases, the county proposed 10.2 cents per dollar.

Read more

New, relocated businesses boost Issaquah economy

May 4, 2010

The local economy has improved since last year, but increased retail offerings and high-profile construction projects could help the city rebound in the months ahead.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said the city had progressed beyond the economic doldrums of last year. Joe’s — the longtime sporting goods retailer — closed as the city grappled with dual real estate and building construction slowdowns brought on by the recession.

“In 2010, we started to see the economic recovery start to take hold,” Trimble told City Council members April 27. “We’ve had some new retail moving in, both big and small. Construction activity has been returning.”

Swedish Medical Center started construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands late last year, and Best Buy and Sports Authority will open Issaquah stores in the months ahead. Sports Authority will occupy the old Joe’s space, and Best Buy will fill vacant space in the bustling East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Sports Authority should generate $85,000 to $100,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city; Best Buy should pull in $100,000 to $200,000, city Finance Director Jim Blake said in a May 1 conference call with council members.

Read more

Leon Kos will retire from city after 33 years

April 27, 2010

City administrator leaves behind a bigger, stronger Issaquah

Leon Kos

The past three decades can be attributed to — or blamed on — legendary City Clerk Linda Ruehle.

Issaquah needed a new city administrator in early 1977. Leon Kos, a recent Seattle transplant from California, applied for the job.

Read more

Mayor proposes leaner budget for 2010

October 6, 2009

Fewer dollars would be set aside for the DownTown Issaquah Association, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Village Theatre and other organizations supported by city money under the 2010 budget unveiled by Mayor Ava Frisinger. Read more

Expect tighter budget for 2010, mayor says

September 22, 2009

Mayor Ava Frisinger plans to present a leaner city budget early next month, as the City Council seeks to tamp down expenses for 2010. Her budget presentation, scheduled for the Oct. 5 council meeting, follows a round of layoffs last week and several months of money-saving measures. Read more

City services will be impacted by employee layoffs

September 8, 2009

Residents may notice more weeds at city parks, longer waits for passports and fewer road projects next year as municipal officials trim expenses by about $7 million. Read more

City will lay off 10 employees

September 3, 2009

NEW — 1:45 p.m. Sept. 3, 2009

City officials gave layoff notices to 10 employees today as the city takes dramatic steps to trim expenses by about $7 million.

Employees in the municipal Building, Human Resources, Parks & Recreation, Planning and Public Works Engineering departments received notice their positions would be eliminated soon. Some of the departments have been hit by a slowdown in building construction.

The layoffs followed a hiring freeze and a voluntary severance program enacted by the city. Municipal officials will save about $595,000 next year after seven employees opted for a severance package. All told, the hiring freeze, severance program and layoffs will save the city $2.025 million.

Read more

Reserve dollars will be used to bridge city budget gap

August 4, 2009

City officials will dip into a rainy day fund to close a $3.6 million budget gap, and officials could turn to employee layoffs, furloughs and program cuts to prevent another shortfall next year. Read more

Press Editorial

June 30, 2009

Have we seen the end of the big wave of business closures in Issaquah? We can only hope so. Read more

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