Tim Eyman has devised a new real life version of a popular game which he is calling TimCity 2009. Its rules are rather bizarre, but you had better read them now and decide if you like them, because Tim’s Rules will become binding unless you vote NO on Initiative 1033.
Here are the Rules to Play as proposed by TimCity creator Tim Eyman. They are hidden in the text of Initiative 1033, which you should read if you haven’t yet. But be aware that not all of the consequences or penalties of following Tim’s Rules are spelled out in the initiative text.
Your goal as an elected official is to try to maintain a functioning city despite Tim’s Rules, designed to limit your ability to provide public services.
Tim’s Rules apply to all of Washington State’s 281 cities. You can choose any one of these cities as your city to play the game because Tim’s Rules are the same for all 281 cities. Eyman also is proposing these same rules for almost identical versions of this game to be called TimCounty 2009 (39 counties to choose from) and TimState 2009 (Washington is the only state that can be played).
Tim’s Rules propose that you can run your city only with the amount of money in this year’s recession-era budget. You cannot use any previous year’s budget and invest more revenue into public services.
You also cannot restore any services lost due to the current recession or increase any other service unless you want to cut something else currently funded or go for a public vote. Public votes will cost you money from your budget.
Tim’s Rules say that in future years he will only allow your expenditures to increase by inflation and population growth. The inflation factor is based on a national consumer inflation factor, not one for Washington State so it may not track actual inflation in your city. It also does not track costs which rise faster than consumer inflation such as health care or needs created by development of Commercial or Industrial Zones. So in future years, you will probably have to cut some services due to their costs rising faster than this index.
Tim gets any future tax revenue above this year’s recession based baseline. He proposes to use it to eventually cancel out the property tax, the only major tax on wealth that our state, counties, and cities collect. Sales tax will continue to be collected at current levels but only property owners will get any of the money that Tim’s Rules prevent from being invested in services.
You can try to take some of this money away from Eyman but you must hold a referendum. Only some 65% of households in the state are owner occupied, so realize that when you hold a referendum Eyman will claim you are trying to raise their taxes by taking away their special property tax cut he gave them.
You will also have to pay for the referendum out of your existing city funds, so you’ll have to cut something somewhere to pay the election costs.
Eyman has the ability to oppose any referendum you propose. It is up to you to find people to support your referendum out of your own pocket because no city money can be spent on supporting or opposing a spending referendum.
Factors that affect your city budget include wild cards like a natural disasters, changes in crime patterns, an aging population, an aging city infrastructure, another recession, possible businesses leaving your city and an outbreak of infectious disease and other unforeseen and unbudgeted factors.
Existing services you must continue providing (if you can) include:
- police and fire protection;
- road repair and cleaning;
- keeping libraries open;
- maintaining utility services (water and sewer);
- contracting for garbage, yard waste and recycling services;
- maintaining public health and safety;
- providing sidewalks;
- earthquake response;
- providing emergency medical response;
- funding municipal courts;
- maintaining air quality and clean drinking water;
- maintaining parks and recreation facilities,
- dealing with abandoned cars;
- investigating code compliance;
- enforcing building codes and zoning rules;
- keeping community and senior centers open;
- collecting taxes and bill payments;
- scheduling and paying for city elections;
- compensating city employees;
- repaving city roads and filling potholes;
- cleaning up graffiti.
Note that this not a complete list.
You must keep city residents and voters happy or you can lose your elected office. You are not allowed to give any additional public services to renters and senior citizens and working families who do not own property despite their continuing to pay sales taxes and other taxes at the same rate as now when the economy improves.
Their added taxes must go into Eyman’s fund to cancel out property taxes.
You also may not expand or modernize any existing services unless you get approval from the voters. You are not allowed to change the fact that a third of the “excess” tax dollars will go to help businesses and corporations pay their property tax despite the fact that they already get a sales tax exemption for goods they purchase wholesale or for resale.
You are also not allowed to alter the fact that property tax payments are not targeted to help those who need it most like low income working families or seniors on fixed income. It has to go in proportion to the amount of property they have, so large property owners will see the largest benefit.
Welcome to TimCity 2009. Good luck in providing adequate public services and keeping the residents of your city happy.
Hopefully the maker of a similar sounding game which is make believe, unlike TimCity 2009 which is proposed for real by TimCity Creator Tim Eyman in Initiative 1033, will not be angry for Tim’s name being Tim and rhyming with their name. Unfortunately Tim’s Rules do have a similarity with their game in that it says players can “Build, play with and destroy amazing cities with SimCity Creator”.
For more information on opposing I-1033 see: