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Published on Friday, February 13, 2015

Public safety sales tax distribution

SB 5866 would allow a county to retain all of the public safety sales tax if it begins imposing the tax after July 1, 2015.

In 2003, counties were given authority to impose a 3/10 percent sales tax with voter approval. The county retains 60% of the revenue, and cities receive the other 40% on a per capita basis. One-third of the revenue must be used for public safety.

Beginning January 1, 2011, cities were authorized to impose a 1/10 percent public safety sales tax if the county declined to impose their 3/10 authority. The city retains 85% of the revenue, and the county receives the other 15%.

As of January 1, 2015, nine counties (Benton, Franklin, Jefferson, Kittitas, San Juan, Skagit, Spokane, Walla Walla, and Yakima) were imposing the full 3/10. Whatcom County imposes 1/10.

Fourteen cities impose the authorized 1/10: Ephrata, LaConner, Leavenworth, Mill Creek, Monroe, Okanogan, Olympia, Roy, Sequim, Sedro-Woolley, Shelton, Twisp, Winthrop, and Woodland.

SB 5866 would retain the provision that a city imposing the tax must share 15% with the county. Cities will express concern about the proposal at a Senate Government Operations & Security Committee hearing on Tuesday, February 17 at 10am.

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