Sales tax hike to help fund affordable housing, officials say

PORT ANGELES — Voters have approved a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax hike to fund affordable housing measures.

Approval was at 53.4 percent of the vote, with 1,328 votes, after Tuesday’s initial count of ballots. Votes opposed numbered 1,159, or 46.5 percent. A simple majority is needed for approval.

The Clallam County Auditor’s Office planned another count of ballots in the all-mail election late Wednesday. Those totals are not reflected here because of press deadlines.

The measure raises the sales tax rate in Port Angeles from the current 8.7 percent to 8.8 percent, meaning that a $10 purchase within the city limits costs one cent more and a $100 purchase costs 10 cents more. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

The measure would generate an estimated $325,000 in revenue for new construction of affordable housing, rehabilitation of existing housing into affordable housing and construction of infrastructure required for affordable housing developments.

It also makes the city eligible for a 0.0146-percent state sales tax credit for 20 years to encourage more investments in affordable and supportive housing under House Bill 1406.

The 0.0146-percent state sales tax credit would generate about $575,000 over 20 years, Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin has said.

Revenue from the sales tax increase would be placed into a special housing fund administered by the city.

The lack of affordable and available housing has been the top priority for the Port Angeles City Council this year.

A housing needs assessment found that the city will need 196 new single-family dwellings, 220 new housing units attached to existing residences and 178 new multi-family units by 2020.

House Bill 1406, which was co-sponsored by state Reps. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend, provides cities and counties that adopt a qualifying local tax to receive a larger sales tax credit from the state.

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