Covington proposes sales tax increase for November ballot

The city is looking for a pros and cons committee to write pamphlet statements in favor and in opposition of the ballot measure.

The city of Covington is proposing a two tenths of a percent sales tax increase to fund street maintenance. The tax will be included in the November voters pamphlet.

The tax increase will raise Covington’s sales tax from 8.6 percent to 8.8 percent and equates to 1 cent on every $5 taxable purchase, according to a press release from the city.

The release went on to say that anyone who makes a taxable purchase, including non-residents, will be contributing to the street maintenance fund. If the tax does pass in the November election, the City Council will rescind the $20-per-vehicle tab fee that only Covington residents pay.

According to Rob Hendrickson, the finance director of Covington, this tax will be good for the city and will bring in more money for the street fund.

“From our stand point, it’s important mostly because it brings in a little bit larger amount of revenue than the vehicle license fee does and the second feature is that it spreads that revenue over a larger base of population, whereas the vehicle license fee is all put on the city’s resident’s that have vehicles, trailers, motorcycles, etc. — that need to be licensed,” Hendrickson explained. “The sales tax is spread out amongst everybody that shops in the city, so both inside and outside (the city).”

This reduces the amount of money the community members in Covington would have to pay, he said.

Hendrickson said this tax has been proposed in the past, twice, and failed both times.

He contributes these two failures to tax fatigue.

“The county wants tax money, the state wants tax money. We’ve seen what happens with the McCleary Act and how much that’s impacted property taxes and so I think people are kind of taxed out. But I think if the really understood how this tax works and what it’s going for, I think they would understand the need for it,” Hendrickson said.

To make for a fair pros and cons argument toward the tax, Hendrickson said the city is required by law to have a pros and cons committee. He said it is important to keep these committees separate from the city because the city has to stay neutral about the proposed tax.

According to the press release from the city, the committees will be made up of three local citizens for both the pro and con side.

It will be the committees responsibility to write pamphlet statements in favor and in opposition of the ballot measure, the release stated.

If residents are interested in joining either the pro or con committees, they must contact the city by July 15. Once the committees are made, they are required to submit statements of no more than 150 words to King County elections no later than Aug. 14, the release said. Then King County Elections will then provide each committee with the opposing statement to prepare a rebuttal of no more than 75 words, which are due back by Aug. 16.

The City Council will appoint the committee members at the July 24 council meeting.

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