On Tuesday evening, Oct. 6, 2020, the Kent City Council unanimously adopted an Ordinance authorizing a sales and use tax for affordable housing and related services in accordance with a newly adopted state law, RCW 82.14.530.

Ordinance 4730 was adopted in response to the passage of House Bill 1590, which the Washington State Legislature passed during the 2020 Regular Session. H.B. 1590 allows a county or city council to approve a 0.1 percent sales and use tax for affordable housing. These funds must be used for the construction of affordable housing, mental and behavioral health-related facilities, or funding the operations and maintenance of costs of new affordable housing units or facilities.

King County intends to impose the tax starting Oct. 13, 2020. The county did not meet the Sept. 30, 2020 deadline to retain exclusive rights to impose the tax, so the Kent City Council adopted this ordinance to ensure local control of funds generated from the tax. The County Council intended to enact the tax exclusively, collect the tax revenue from residents across the county, including Kent residents, and spend the funds anywhere in the county.

“We’re all in agreement, none of us want to raise taxes on any of our residents right now, but (we’ve all said it multiple times) this is going to happen, regardless of if we do anything or not, and this is our opportunity to have a seat at the table,” said Council President Toni Troutner during yesterday’s virtual meeting.

“By enacting this tax before the County does it allows the City of Kent and Kent residents to have a direct say in how the money is spent and how it can best benefit our community. It doesn’t preclude us from partnering with the county and service provides to look for regional solutions, but it guarantees we have a voice,” Troutner continued.

“The Kent City Council voted unanimously that it is in the best interest of our residents, particularly our vulnerable populations who stand to benefit most, for the City of Kent to retain the authority to manage the proceeds generated by this tax inside city limits,” the city said in a statement.

“The needs of our residents in Kent are different than our neighboring cities, and by enacting this tax locally, the City of Kent will be able to direct the use of these funds most effectively to best serve our community.”

Scott Schaefer

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