SEATTLE - The King County Council has voted against putting a sales tax hike to a public vote, but is preparing to work on an alternative plan involving property taxes – one that would also require the public's approval.
The council vote was five-to-four in favor of putting the sales tax measure on the August ballot. However, a minimum of six yes votes was required to pass it.
The county faces a $60 million budget shortfall this year. King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed the measure last month, saying the county needs to raise the sales tax if people don't want to face steep cuts in police, criminal prosecution, and courts. Dozens of deputies sat in the council chamber during Monday's vote.
The vote was along party lines, with all the Republicans on the council voting no.
"Right now, we're trying to protect every special interest group we can. We can no longer do that. There are no more sacred cows," said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
"We had bipartisan support. Two of my Republican colleagues at that point in time raised their hand and they said 'Yes. I support this proposal.' I don't think we would have come this far if we would have known back then that you were not supportive," said Councilmember Julia Patterson.
Democrats knew that they were going to get a no vote, so over the weekend, they came up with an alternative tax plan. The idea is to take some property taxes which are designated for parks or road repair and put that into the criminal justice system. That kind of budget maneuvering is going to require a vote of the people.
The sales tax proposal would have added another two cents tax on a $10 purchase in most of the county. That would mean a total of 97 cents sales tax on a $10 purchase.