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King County Council Places Sales Tax Measure On November Ballot

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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