Councilmember: Snohomish County sales tax increase getting ‘rushed with minimal transparency’

Dec 2, 2021, 11:39 AM | Updated: 11:55 am
Everett homeless camping, no sit no lie, Snohomish County...
Homeless campers in Everett. (KIRO 7 TV)

Snohomish County Council could soon pass a 0.1% sales tax increase, as part of a process County Councilmember Nate Nehring says is littered with issues.

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For the most part, local sales tax increases must be put to voters before they can be implemented. A notable exception was carved out by state Legislatures in 2020, though, making it so cities and counties can raise sales taxes without a public vote by as much as 0.1%, provided the money goes toward affordable housing. With Snohomish County dealing with its own issues surrounding the rising cost of housing, the hope is to stave off the downstream effects related to homelessness.

Nehring has “several issues” with the proposal.

“The underlying merits of raising taxes for that sort of thing should be questioned,” he told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “But one of my biggest concerns right now is that this is being rushed through with minimal transparency.”

As he points out, the county council plans to take a vote on the measure during its last meeting before it breaks for Christmas, “which is way quicker than it would regularly happen.”

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that … the plan is to pass this at the last meeting before Christmas,” he posited. “I think it’s to minimize the amount of public input that’s received to minimize deliberation, and I think that’s just wrong.”

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Nehring believes that the tax will likely pass by a slim 3-2 margin regardless, but he’s also looking to tack on an amendment that would require the tax to be put before voters.

As for whether that amendment will make it onto the final draft of the bill, he says “there’s a chance.”

“With enough public input and people reaching out, we can get that amendment through,” he said. “That would allow this to go for a vote, so then everybody can have a say on it.”

For anyone looking to provide their input to the full county council, Nehring encourages residents to send an email to contact.council@snoco.org.

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Councilmember: Snohomish County sales tax increase getting ‘rushed with minimal transparency’