SEATTLE - It appears the King County Council may have the votes to put a proposed sales tax hike on the November ballot.
Facing a $60 million shortfall next year, King County would solve about half its budget problem by raising the sales tax. Currently, most cities in the county have a sales tax about 9.5 percent. This proposal would bring it to 9.7 percent and over 10 percent in some restaurants.
The 0.2 percent hike would go mostly to criminal justice programs, including the sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices. Slightly more than half the money would go toward the county. The rest would help cities. The plan also gets some money from the road fund for unincorporated King County to spend on police instead.
“Let the people of this county take the vote,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson. “What are we afraid of? If they tell us no, at least they had the chance to tell us what they think. But they might say yes.”
Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert had another plan that raised sales taxes but lowered property taxes at the same time.
“10 percent unemployment out there, families are hurting. It’s a tough time and to go back yet again to the well when people are hurting to fund what should be a basic service.” Dunn said.
Yet another proposal would raise the sales tax another 0.1 percent to build and operate a new juvenile justice center.
But those other ideas do not have enough votes on the council. So, as of now, the most likely plan to make the ballot is a straight, 0.2 percent increase in the sales tax. The council will make its final decision in a couple weeks.