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Published on Friday, June 5, 2015

House committee expected to move revised city and county fiscal sustainability proposal

In mid-April, we reported on HB 2156, promoting the fiscal sustainability of cities and counties. The bill started out as a vehicle to promote fiscal sustainability because it contained two priority revenue proposals for cities and counties: Gradual restoration of city and county liquor profit sharing and county utility tax authority.

The House Finance Committee heard the proposal on April 17 but did not take further action. Now the committee has scheduled the bill for executive action on Monday, June 8. We are hearing the bill will move with bi-partisan support. However, the bill will be scaled down to the following four parts:

  1. Allowing assessments for nuisance abatement. In addition to existing authorities, this part authorizes a city or town to levy a special assessment, not to exceed $2,000, to reimburse a city or town for the expense of abatement. The city must notify the property owner and any mortgage holder before levying an assessment. This bill is a continuation of the work done on SB 5694, and cities need amendments to the current language, including one to clarify the $2,000 cap does not affect underlying authority and only applies to the new priority lien.
  2. Establishing cost recovery for commercial public records requests. This part allows the state and local governments to charge a fee, not to exceed the actual costs of providing the records, for certain commercial public records requests. The bill provides exemptions for specific types of businesses, such as newspapers. The language comes from another AWC supported bill, HB 1086.
  3. Accepting small political subdivisions in PEBB health coverage. This is a county priority that would require the state’s Public Employees Benefit Board to accept political subdivisions with fewer than 5,000 employees. The language mirrors that of ESHB 1740.
  4. Modifying the annexation sales tax credit. Like HB 1576, this change is for Seattle’s annexation of White Center. It increases the $5 million per year cap for the credit to $8 million but decreases the time period of the credit from ten years to six years.

At the same hearing, the committee is scheduled to hear a new bill, HB 2263, which contains the funding for cultural and heritage access programs in the original version of HB 2156 and a new 1/10th local option sales tax for affordable housing, mental health, and related services.

Categories: Budget & finance
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