King County Council Places Sales Tax Measure On November Ballot


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On Monday (July 19), the King County Council announced that it had approved placing a proposal on the November ballot to increase the sales and use tax in King County, with revenue going predominately to public safety services.

According to a release, if approved by voters on Nov. 2nd the increase would generate around $59 million in revenue for King County in 2011 and $80 million in 2012, the first full year the levy would be collected. Under the proposal, the County’s portion of the proceeds would be used solely for public safety programs ranging from the Sheriff and Prosecutor’s Office to Public Defense and Jail Health Services.

In addition, 40 percent of the tax proceeds would go to the 39 cities within King County based on their population. This would mean that approximately $24 million would go to city governments with the County. State law requires that cities must spend one-third of the proceeds on criminal justice services.

The sales tax increase would remain in effect for a maximum of three years.

Along with an increase in the sales tax, the measure would use a portion of the County’s unincorporated area levy—$9.5 million in 2011—to fund police services in the County’s unincorporated communities.

The adopted ordinance now goes to the voters on Nov. 2nd as part of the general election ballot.

Here’s the full press release:

County Council places sales tax ballot measure on November ballot

Proposal to raise $80 million in revenue sent to general election ballot

Facing a projected $60 million budget deficit, the Metropolitan King County Council today approved sending to the voters in November a proposal to raise the sales and use tax in King County by two-tenths of one percent. The revenue raised by the ballot measure would go predominately to public safety services.

“It’s important to remember that the Council did not raise taxes today,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “We’re giving voters the chance to tell us if they support public safety services provided by King County and every other city in the County.”

“Keeping the public safe is an essential County function,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson. “Voters deserve the opportunity to decide whether critical criminal justice services should be preserved.”

“A sales tax increase is absolutely necessary to save vital services such as sheriffs, prosecutors and programs that serve to lower our jail costs,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “What is at stake is the quality of life that we treasure so much in our county.  This is the reason we are asking King County voters to support this crucial measure at the polls this November.”

“With public safety being the paramount concern of people in King County, voters must have a chance to weigh in about whether to cut $60 million in criminal justice services or preserve them with temporary higher taxes,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “Knowing the difficult choice this will be for voters struggling through this Great Recession, I worked to lower the tax burden and add accountability to the proposal by including a three-year sunset provision.”

“The Council’s decision today is all about giving voters a choice,” said Councilmember Jan Drago. “Cutting $60 million from the budget will touch every part of county government, and that’s just too big a number and too big of a decision to make without the public’s input. We need to know what people are willing to pay for or willing to give up in these tough economic times.”

If approved by voters, the increase would generate approximately $59 million in revenue for King County in 2011 and $80 million in 2012, the first full year the levy would be collected. Under the proposal, the County’s portion of the proceeds would be used solely for public safety programs ranging from the Sheriff and Prosecutor’s Office to Public Defense and Jail Health Services.

In addition, 40 percent of the tax proceeds would go to the 39 cities within King County based on their population. This would mean that approximately $24 million would go to city governments with the County. State law requires that cities must spend one-third of the proceeds on criminal justice services.

The sales tax increase would remain in effect for a maximum of three years.

Along with an increase in the sales tax, the measure would use a portion of the County’s unincorporated area levy—$9.5 million in 2011—to fund police services in the County’s unincorporated communities.

The adopted ordinance now goes to the voters on November 2 as part of the general election ballot.

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Comments

6 Responses to “King County Council Places Sales Tax Measure On November Ballot”
  1. Julie Dosono says:

    Just what we need more taxes.If Washington does not already have enough taxes.I am a life long democrat but now is time for me to vote these tax crazy democrats out of office.

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  2. Coverofnight says:

    Right on, Julie! If public safety is so important, why are the police jobs the first to be threatened with cuts when there is a deficit? That tells me that maybe cops aren’t as high a priority as the Council would like you to believe; they’ll cut cops before they cut their own departments’ budgets and salaries. Sounds like scare tactics to me. Didn’t we just see some similar logic regarding the B-Town Burger break-in where Block said we need higher taxes if we want better “proactive” police protection? These politicians need to do a better job of belt-tightening even if it means laying off a LOT of public employees! Oh, but they can’t do that because of the unions…..maybe they ought to visit 1-888-no-union.com for more information. What’s more important, a balanced budget with the County making sacrifices or higher taxes and make the citizenry sacrifice more?

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  3. Greg Fox says:

    While the intent of this bill (and tax) may be quite noble, it still is an increased tax which many of us can ill afford.
    NO TO ANY INCREASE IN TAXES FOR WHATEVER REASON!
    Do without or take the money from some other worthy source.
    The last thing needed in this economy is more taxes! This appears to be a last ditch effort by the powers-that-may-be to tell us that if we don’t increase the taxes then we should do without. If that is the case, then I say we do without.
    The existing 9.5% sales tax and new license plate fees and new soda, alcohol, cigarette and sugar taxes in King County are by far too much!!!

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  4. Hotrodgal says:

    “Under the proposal, the County’s portion of the proceeds would be used solely for public safety programs ranging from the Sheriff and Prosecutor’s Office to Public Defense and Jail Health Services.”
    I would like to know how much of these funds actually go directly into beefing up our police force to protect the innocent public…not to help the poor criminals with legal help and health services.
    I also am curious as to know where the other two-thirds of the $24 million, going to local city governments, would be spent.
    I am not against sales tax. We don’t have state income tax here so we have to pay our costs with something but it seems this ballot leaves a lot of ‘free money’ floating around with no public control of its uses.
    I agree with Coverofnight… “Sounds like scare tactics to me.”

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  5. Chris says:

    Same ol’ “Increase taxes or people will die!” message. Voting no on this one. I’m a slight left dem, with a fiscal conservative streak, and I just can’t vote for this.

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  6. Betsy says:

    Ridiculous! How about better spending the money you have!! How about cutting out redundancies, process for the sake of process and other boondoggle activites that the gov spends our money on first before putting your hand out once again. I love how the solution is always to raise taxes on the people–the gov is out of control.

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