Sequim City Council on record against income taxes that don’t exist

SEQUIM — Sequim City Council members have passed a resolution opposing a city income tax.

The council approved it in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 22.

Council member Keith Larkin said his intent for the resolution followed the Kunath v. City of Seattle decision that affirmed a city could not levy an income tax ordinance on wealthier residents because it violates the state’s constitution.

Larkin said if the state’s Supreme Court changes its mind, it “obviously would have a detrimental impact on small businesses and anyone with employees trying to keep a workforce.”

He said, “I felt it was important to make a stance on this issue from the City of Sequim. We are opposed as a city to any local income tax on our citizens.”

Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said he and Mayor William Armacost had a “vigorous discussion” about the resolution at their agenda meeting and that he couldn’t support the resolution.

“All it does is shame council members,” Ferrell said. “It’s not the way to run the city.”

Council member Brandon Janisse asked where the resolution came from.

“The Washington State Constitution says income taxes are not allowed. The Supreme Court said numerous times they’re not allowed,” Janisse said.

“We’re passing a resolution on something that’s not even there. As much as I’m against income tax, it’s legislating the Legislature.”

The resolution states: “ … local income tax may generate additional revenue in the short term, but would most likely result in less long-term revenue due to the dampening effect it would have on our businesses.”

It states that the council prohibits sales tax because it would be “in direct conflict with the high value the City of Sequim places on promoting economic development through the attraction and expansion of financially healthy, family wage paying employers.”

Armacost said one of the attractive factors of Washington state is no income tax, and that city officials in Seattle knew the Constitution and still attempted to pass the ordinance.

“It’s not designed to shame, or put light on one side or the other of the city council,” Armacost said. “I commend councilor Larkin for doing his due diligence for the citizens of Sequim to get in front of it … We will keep our eye on this and continue to work for citizens and small businesses.”

Armacost added that resolutions and proclamations “do not carry much weight” but that they “create a strong ear so the public knows we’re listening to them and looking out for their best interests and not our own.”

Three of the four council members who voted for the resolutions were voted out of office in November and Nov. 22 was their final council meeting.

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