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Friday morning's headlines

Luan Nguyen-Tran
Students from Tacoma's Foss High at a recent rally to keep the school open. Last night Superintendent Art Jarvis announced he'll look at other cost-saving options to close a budget gap, rather than temporarily closing the school.

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • King County Property Taxes to Rise as Home Values Fall
  • Foss High School Won't Close After All
  • Hempfest Sues Seattle Over Permit Denial

Lower Property Values, Higher Taxes

It's a "counter-intuitive" reality according to King County Assessor Lloyd Hara. He tells the Seattle Times that many home owners will see their property taxes go up as the value of their homes goes down. Hara says this reality is primarily the result of new voter-approved levies and bonds. Voters approved 44 tax increases in 2010, 38 of them for schools.Hara told the Times it's still a volatile real estate market because there are so many homes in foreclosure:

"We really haven't seen a market like this since the Great Depression," Hara said. "A lot of people can't remember the history, and we're kind of making our own history in this marketplace." calculates one-third of Seattle-area mortgage holders owe more money than their houses are worth.

County tax collections will increase 3.3 percent after a year in which total assessed value dropped 3.4 percent. The drop in value was modest compared with the previous year's 11.6 percent plunge. Tax bills - based on property values as of January 1, 2010 - will be mailed to property owners on Monday.


Foss High School Closure Off Table

It looks like the closure of Foss High School is off the table as a way to save money in Tacoma Public Schools. Superintendent Art Jarvis had proposed closing the city's smallest comprehensive high school as a way to cut an estimated $2 million from next school year's budget. But he said yesterday that he will bring other options.

During a school board budget study session, the News Tribune reports board member Debbie Winskill said she sees Foss as a "highly effective school:

“Closing Foss would anger our voters and jeopardize future levies,” Winskill said. She predicted the closure would worsen revenues, because students – and their state funding – would leave the Tacoma School District.

Other proposed cuts still on the table include increasing class sizes and closing some elementary schools.


Hempfest Sues Seattle Over Permits

Organizers of Hempfest are suing the city of Seattle over its annual festival. This August would mark the 20th anniversary of the colorful gathering, which draws large crowds to its tents full of tie-dye clothing and all things hemp.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, says the city told organizers that construction of a footbridge into Myrtle Edwards Park would preclude use of the festival site.

“It is with heavy hearts that we take this action against the city that we love,” said Hempfest’s executive director, Vivian McPeak. “We thoroughly wanted to spend the months leading up to Hempfest’s 20th anniversary working on the best event ever. Without a date or a venue that is almost impossible.”

Although bids for building the bridge have not yet gone out, the city says construction of the West Thomas Street pedestrian and bicycle overpass is expected to start in March.

KING5 reports organizers searched for an alternative venue in Seattle but haven’t found one.