The Seattle Times today gives prominent front page coverage to Kemper Freeman’s long range plans at Bellevue Square. The article is in response to the opening of the upscale “The Shops at the Braven” only a few blocks away from Bellevue Square. A Neiman Marcus store is one of the new shops opening in the new retail shopping area.
Freeman is reported spending $40 million in a recent remodel of Bellevue Square. He has lots of money tied up in his real estate and that has to mean high property taxes. Was that his motivation behind his contribution of $25,000 on June 4, 2009 to help Tim Eyman get his signatures to get Initiative 1033 on this November’s ballot? After Michael Dunmire’s $300,000 contribution, Kemper Freeman’s is the second largest cash contribution to Initiative 1033. Michael Dunmire is a retired investment banker that lives in Woodinville.
Kemper Freeman’s contribution was given through his real estate development company – Kemper Holdings LLC based in Bellevue Washington.
From a civic betterment and community economic sense Freeman’s contribution makes no sense. I-1033 is will freeze all revenue spending by Bellevue, King County and the state of Washington at it’s current recession level. As the economy improves Bellevue will not be able to invest new tax dollars like from increased sales taxes in making improvements in the Bellevue community – no additional money for street repairs or sidewalks or parks or additional police or fire protection. Any expenditures above the baseline would require a public referendum.
But maybe Kemper Freeman is a cynic and sees I-1033 for what it is – a wealth transfer scheme from renters and low income working families and seniors that don’t have property but who will still pay sales taxes, to property owners to help them pay less property taxes.
Initiative 1033 disperses its property tax reductions from the fund Eyman sets up called lower property taxes fund into which any revenue above this year’s spending level goes. As the economy improves the property tax reductions increase.
State law requires all property to be treated the same. Some 40% of property taxes are for commercial property. The State Office of Financial Management has estimated that I-1033 will reduce state revenue by some $8.7 billion over the next 5 years.
Of course the more property one owns the more of a reduction in total dollars property owners will see. So Kemper Freeman will get a great return on his $25,000 investment if voters make the mistake of approving I-1033.
Maybe Kemper Freeman is not really concerned about renters and senior citizens and working families that own no property who will see no property tax rebate or new public services. After all how many go to Bellevue Square now to shop. The bulk of shoppers at Bellevue Square are higher income and property owners. If they see reduced property taxes Kemper Freeman will be providing them an upscale mall to spend their dollars at.
Call me a cynic but Kemper Freeman has no heart. It’s all about the money – his money.
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