Sultan mayor: Increasing taxes does not ‘help get the economy back on track’

Dec 17, 2021, 2:19 PM
Snow in Sultan, Washington. (File photo courtesy of City of Sultan, Washington - Government/Facebook)
(File photo courtesy of City of Sultan, Washington - Government/Facebook)

Snohomish County Council, in a vote that was completely along party lines, passed a sales tax to fund services for affordable housing that will end up helping the homeless population.

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

KTTH’s Jason Rantz says the council passed this without any meaningful community support. A group of local lawmakers called that out before the vote, saying that the voters should get to decide.

Russell Wiita, the mayor of Sultan, is part of that group.

“I joined 57 other local elected officials in the letter asking for the affordable housing sales tax increase to be put to voters,” Wiita told the Jason Rantz Show. “Mostly because, right now, responding to the pandemic, and business is struggling, we didn’t really think it was a time for the county council — in just a two-week, quick process — to impose this.”

Wiita said a tax increase like this would historically have had to go to the voters, however, the legislature recently passed a bill that allows either a county or city council to enact this without going to voters.

“We’re not necessarily arguing the merits of affordable housing or behavioral health, those are issues affecting all our communities, but it was to make the case to the voters that are going to have to pay this,” the mayor said.

Wiita noted that the increased sales tax will impact most purchases people make.

“I think voters are going to question why,” he said. “Why didn’t we learn more about this before it happened? And for some, not necessarily Sultan, but some cities in our county are going to have the highest sales tax on the West Coast because of this.”

Lynnwood is near the top of the list, he said, if not the top, and there are a few others in southwest Snohomish County that would be near the top.

Wiita also notes that this tax is coming at a bad time, as the economy is still trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recognize that, at the local level, when we passed our budget this year for the city of Sultan, we did not increase the property tax the 1% that we were allowed. It’s the second year in a row that we haven’t taken that, recognizing that people are struggling right now,” Wiita said. “And increasing taxes is not the thing to do to help get the economy back on track.”

Small town Washington mayor rides long-legged bird to charity success

Moving forward, Wiita says he hopes people pay attention to future ballots and notice that these decisions are being made by leaders they are electing.

“What we’ve seen a lot of times is voters that say they don’t want tax increases in just about every advisory vote that comes to the ballot,” he said, but those are non-binding and mostly serve to show where public opinion lies.

“But they turn around and elect the same people that impose those taxes,” Wiita continued. “… I don’t have a lot of confidence that voters are going to make a change, but I hope they do.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show


seattle police, traffic stops...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: New equity policy bars Seattle Police from some traffic stops, opens door to more car theft

Seattle Police are now barred from many non-criminal traffic stops after activists claimed concerns over equity.
2 days ago
Sheriff Fortney...
KTTH staff

Snohomish County Sheriff Fortney will run for re-election after failed recall effort

After a failed recall effort against him last year, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney says he will run for office again in 2023.
3 days ago
MultiCare hospitals...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: MultiCare hospitals order symptomatic COVID-positive staff to see patients

MultiCare Health Systems is forcing COVID-positive staff to work at its area hospitals, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned.
4 days ago
Redistricting ,senator...
KTTH staff

State senator escorted out after not submitting negative COVID test

State Senator Phil Fortunato was escorted out of the Legislative building in Olympia because he had not submitted a required negative COVID test.
4 days ago
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, coronavirus...
KTTH staff

‘They never could figure me out’: Former King County Sheriff looks back on shortened tenure

Former King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht left office at the end of 2021, and spoke to KTTH's Jason Rantz Show this week to reflect on her tenure.
4 days ago
transgender, gender...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: WA laws now allow teen gender reassignment surgery without parental consent

Washington state now appears to allow minors to undergo life-changing gender reassignment surgery without parental consent.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Sultan mayor: Increasing taxes does not ‘help get the economy back on track’