Enumclaw sales tax to rise in spring, supports road improvements

Enumclaw voters have agreed to bump the local tax rate in exchange for guaranteed street improvements, but residents won’t begin paying the higher tax until spring.

It’s all about timing, according to Enumclaw City Administrator Chris Searcy.

Local voters approved a tax increase as part of the Nov. 3 general election and the results await certification by the King County Elections Department. Then, instructions to implement the higher tax within the city limits must be forwarded to the state’s Department of Revenue. Because Revenue operates on a quarterly cycle, Enumclaw’s new tax will not be imposed until the beginning of 2016’s second quarter, or April 1.

Enumclaw’s sales tax rate will jump by one-tenth of 1 percent, courtesy of voters who supported the Nov. 3 measure with better than 60 percent support. The additional tax equates to an additional 10 cents for every $100 spent – or a dollar for every $1,000 in purchases. The additional tax does not apply to exempt items like food.

The tax increase was proposed by the local Transportation Benefit District, which consists of the seven members of the Enumclaw City Council acting as an independent body.

The TBD saw the tax increase as a way to collect money for city streets while spreading the burden. The additional tax will be paid by everyone purchasing taxable goods and services in town, not just local residents.

The Transportation Benefit District has the authority to collect money in several ways and has already exercised one of its options. In February 2015, the decision was made to collect an additional $20 one very vehicle licensed in Enumclaw. That fee remains on the books.

The license fee generates about $210,000 annually and the sales tax increase will bring in an estimated $250,000 per year. All collections are mandated solely for road improvements.