Opposition mounts to sales tax hike in Snohomish County

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The 0.01% increase would raise about $ 100,000,000 for low-rental housing, but some council members say voters should decide for politicians.

EVERETT, Wash – Despite protests from political and business leaders in Snohomish County, it appears voters will not be allowed to vote on a proposed sales tax hike.

Snohomish County Council is expected to vote on the increase on Wednesday morning.

The 0.01% hike would add $ 1 to a $ 1,000 purchase.

It would cost the average buyer about $ 22 more per year.

“I would love to pay that $ 22 for housing,” said Candace Angelo, who lost her home when the friend she lived with was evicted two years ago.

She’s sober and has a monthly disability check to pay her rent, but she can’t find anything she can afford.

So Angelo sleeps in a church and comes to Esther’s Place daytime shelter to warm up and eat, but his outlook is bleak.

“There is no hope,” she said. “If there is no hope, where are you?” “

Snohomish County officials said the sales tax increase would bring in more than $ 100 million.

In doing so, this would allow builders to double the number of affordable housing units on the market to 522 over the next five years, as well as remove about 40% of homeless people from the streets.

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Homeless advocates say more housing needs to be built immediately because people are waiting up to seven years for a home.

“I can’t do this,” Angelo said. “I’m too old for this.”

When asked how long she could last, Angelo replied, “Not much longer. They keep telling me I have to wait. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

On Tuesday, 58 local leaders in Snohomish County sent a letter to County Director Dave Somers imploring him to put the increase to the people’s vote.

“A sales tax increase is one of the most regressive tax options available, as it forces low-income families to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than high-income families,” Scott wrote. Murphy, Everett City Council member. let us encourage our county elected officials to slow down, explore other options and advocate with the public to ensure the support of this source of funding before taking action.

Snohomish County already has the highest sales tax in the state.

RELATED: Snohomish County Proposes No-Vote Sales Tax Increase to Fund Affordable Housing

A homeless crisis in Washington has prompted a recently enacted state law that allows cities and counties to bypass voters in order to approve sales tax increases if the money is used for rental housing modest.

“Certainly I think this is a lazy way to do it and not respect the will of the people,” said Kerri Lonergan-Dreke, CEO of Lombardi restaurants.

She believes that even a 1/10 percent tax increase would hurt low- and middle-income families, as the costs of just about everything are increasing these days.

She wants council to find better ways to build more housing without raising taxes.

“I would love to see them pursue property tax relief incentives for developers and other investors who are willing to invest in below-market housing inventory. They can streamline the authorization process so that we can get developers into the pipeline earlier and complete these projects sooner. ”

As the debate continues, people like Candace Angelo are hurting.

She will spend another night without a home and her hope will quickly vanish.

“You just want to give up,” she said. “I’m not giving up yet, but I want to.”


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