Parts of Snohomish County already charge the highest sales tax rate in the state, and now voters will decide if it should be raised into the double digits. Monday, the County Council voted to put a criminal justice tax increase on the August ballot.
Every single city and county official who spoke at the council meeting was adamant — the county needs more money to fight heroin and homelessness. The council hopes voters will approve a 0.2 percent criminal justice sales tax, estimated to generate $25 million a year and cost the average citizen less than $100.
"I'm confident we're doing the right thing here,” said council member Terry Ryan.
But most of Snohomish County just had a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to fund transportation go into effect last month.
KIRO 7 News pulled the numbers: Right now, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Mukilteo already have some of the highest sales tax in the state at 9.8 percent. Mill Creek has the highest at 9.9 percent.
Bothell straddles the King-Snohomish County line and businesses on the Snohomish side charge a higher sales tax. When we told store owner Nancy Stoll about the criminal justice tax, she was skeptical.
"I would like [a] real concrete plan, then maybe I would consider it but initially right off the bat I would vote no, I think,” she said.
That's essentially what council member Ken Klein said and did. He cast the only "no" vote.
"I am not against asking voters for more money to fund essential services. But despite my requests council has not been presented with a complete plan on how the resources will be allocated,” Klein explained.
Some of the money would go toward 48 new sheriff's deputies and more social workers to embed with those deputies, but county staff members are still working out the details.
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