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Ferndale City Hall (2019). File photo - Whatcom News

City Council votes to override Mayor’s veto of reduced property tax increase

FERNDALE, Wash. — Members of the Ferndale City Council and City staff met at a special meeting in the main conference room at City Hall today, November 27th, to discuss what was seen by many as a surprise veto of an approved 2020 property tax increase by Mayor Jon Mutchler.

Mutchler led the meeting and began by reading the letter that accompanied his veto earlier this week. The letter proposed finding alternative revenue resources, primarily increases in the solid waste tax paid by customers of Recycling & Disposal Services (RDS) and Republic Services. It was noted Ferndale has more solid waste tax revenue than it does sales tax revenue.

Councilmember Kate Bishop then made a motion to override the veto and that received a second from Councilmember Rebecca Xczar. Mutchler then asked for discussion on the motion.

Bishop said she felt like the veto puts the council’s backs into a corner at the last minute and questioned why it was being put to them like this. She challenged the 2014 council saying that taxpayers would see no increase in their property taxes as a result of the fire district annexation, the purported source of the $1.4 million of banked capacity. Referring to the promises made at the time, Bishop said, “It doesn’t seem like a real binding thing.”


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Councilmember Xczar said “The timing of all of this is really unfortunate and inappropriate and what a waste of staff time,” citing that the mayor directed staff to bring council the proposal for increasing property tax without requiring a vote of the people by using 100% of the banked capacity and then he issued a veto on a reduced increase that used 33% of banked capacity.

Councilmember and soon-to-be mayor Greg Hanson pointed out, “We do not know what the future holds for solid waste.” He added,

At this late date, to bring up these revenue ideas seems disingenuous. If my recollection is correct, the mayor was one of the most vocal advocates in favor of taking the banked capacity. The question that remains to be answered is, what changed? There was a vigorous discussion and I brought up a lot of these points along the way; about the source of the banked capacity and the fact it was a bit of a surprise and there was never any reservation at that point. But now that the election is over, negotiation with the police is over and at the moment of passing the budget we now have this decision to make. I second what councilmember Xczar said, I feel for the staff who is on a roller coaster ride here on a number of different levels.

At the beginning of the meeting, newly elected councilmembers Ryan O’Larey and Ramon Llanos were sworn in to the City Council positions vacated earlier this year and were then able to vote on the motion by Bishop. The other newly elected councilmembers will be sworn in at the first council meeting of 2020.

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The motion to override the Mayor’s veto was approved with a vote of 6 to 1 with Olson opposed.


  1. Gayland Gump Gayland Gump November 27, 2019 at 8:33pm

    If what I read is accurate, Mayor Mutchler was a strong supporter of an even larger proposed tax increase than what the council ultimately passed before the election he lost. Given the fact that the tax increase passed with a veto proof 5 to 2 margin suggests that Mayor Mutchler’s veto was a nothing more than an attempt to obscure his actual involvement in the tax increase. Perhaps with an eye to a future run for office?

  2. Richard Wahl Richard Wahl November 29, 2019 at 1:45am

    I know what the future holds…………..MORE taxes!!!

  3. Jackie Rodriguez Jackie Rodriguez November 29, 2019 at 6:14am

    What really makes this whole thing horrible is they just raised the assessment on my house 50,000 dollars. So my taxes are about to go way up. Thank you Ferndale City Council for ensuring that my tax increase will be even higher than ever. Make sure you get every penny you can from your homeowners…

    • Arnold Evanson Arnold Evanson November 29, 2019 at 11:43am

      Exactly my point! My property taxes ALREADY increased by $200 annually simply due to the latest home value assessment. REALLY BAD TIMING TO RAISE TAXES even higher!

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