Limit Property Tax Revenue to Inflation and Growth

Counties only have two principal sources of tax revenue to support public services – property tax and sales
tax – a structure that dates back to the farm-based economy of the 1850s. Property tax far exceeds any other
revenue source for counties, accounting for nearly half of all General Fund and Road Fund revenues.

Counties are Being Left Behind

The State reliance on Sales & Use tax, and other revenue streams, is
resulting in economic recovery for the state while counties are left behind.

For comparison the State of Washington:

  • Receives revenue from 36 separate taxes
  • Relies on property tax for ~10% of its General Fund revenue
  • Generates revenue through the Retail Sales & Use Tax, which grows annually at an average rate of approximately 6%

Impacts

Counties across the state have experienced:

  • Reduction in the number of deputies on the road
  • Cuts to law enforcement training
  • Delayed public safety response times & justice proceedings
  • Caps on inmates booked into county jails
  • Overcrowding in jails
  • Increased diversion from road funds for law enforcement
  • Dangerous road and bridge conditions

A New Approach is Needed

Lawmakers need to replace the 1% property tax cap with a cap to a factor of inflation plus the rate of population growth – the actual factors that drive county costs. Locally accountable officials will then be able to publicly decide whether or not to utilize the new cap.

mm
Josh Weiss started working in Olympia in 1998 and in addition to spending the last 8 years at WSAC, has served as nonpartisan counsel to the House of Representatives, Legislative Director for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Environmental Policy Director for the Washington Forest Protection Association representing private forest landowners. Josh is a graduate of Central Washington University and the Vermont Law School, and is a fourth generation Washingtonian.