OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Initiative supporters hope Olympia will become the first city in the state of Washington to have an income tax.
If it qualifies for the November ballot, Mayor Cheryl Selby does not know if she’ll vote for it.
“We’re very, very concerned about that,” said Selby, worried the city will have to pay to defend the measure in court.
Backers of the initiative expect to have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
If it passes, households making more than $200,000 would be charged a 1.5 percent income tax on the amount above that income level.
Most of the funds, 95 percent, would pay for the first year of community college tuition or a portion of college tuition for high school graduates or GED recipients who live within the Olympia city limits.
The money would have to be used at in-state facilities.
The rest of the revenue would go towards administrative costs.
Volunteers collecting signatures for the initiative, like Ray Guerra, said the tax would reduce student loan debt and reform the state’s tax system.
“Our poor get hit more inordinately than those that are wealthy,” said Guerra.
The mayor voted for the statewide income tax proposal in 2010, which was overwhelmingly defeated in the state.
Olympia citizens supported it.
Selby fears defending the tax in the state’s Supreme Court could cost $500,000.
She said those funds would come from other city services like graffiti cleanup or walking police patrols downtown.
A spokesperson for the initiative said the sponsors are willing to pay for defending the income tax in court.
“I want to see it in writing,” said Selby, “I want to see a check.”