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TBD sales tax hike leading by 6 votes

Six.

The votes of six people, enough for a pickup game of basketball, is the current margin of victory for the Sequim Transportation Benefit District's proposed sales tax increase.

After 24,242 ballots were tallied on election night, the measure was leading with 1,133 "yes" votes, or 50.27 percent, versus 1,121 "no" votes, or 49.73 percent.

Following Friday's count of another 10,507 ballots, the bulk of which were from Sequim's ballot drop box at 1001 E. Washington St., that margin had narrowed to just six.

The measure now has 1,492 "yes" votes, or 50.1 percent, versus 1,486 "no" votes, or 49.9 percent.

Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand said Monday afternoon that 296 Sequim ballots were received Nov. 5 and another 32 ballots were received on Nov. 6, 7 and 10.

Those might be counted earlier than the next scheduled ballot count set for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12, but probably not, she said.

Also remaining to be counted are another 4,200 ballots from all over the county plus any that arrive with a postmark of Nov. 4 or earlier, Rosand said.

"There's a total of 328 ballots left to count so we should know by the end of the week," she said.

Despite the close vote, there won't necessarily be a recount.

Rosand said mandatory ballot recounts apply only to candidates, not propositions.

A recount still could occur if five citizens request it and put down a deposit equal to 15 cents per ballot for a machine recount or 25 cents per ballot for a hand recount, she said.

If the recount doesn't change the result, then the requesting group also would be responsible for any other costs such as equipment and staff time, she said.

If the costs are less than the deposit then the balance is refunded, Rosand said.

Upon hearing the results,

Sequim Mayor Laura Dubois said Friday, "Six votes? Well, it's very close but we're still ahead. Hopefully our lead will hold because our streets really need it."

City Councilor Susan Lorenzen said, "Thank you to the 1,492 voters who supported us."

Interim city manager Robert Spinks also said, "We are ecstatic the community recognizes the challenges that face us."

If approved, the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase will be collected within the Sequim city limit for 10 years to fund or finance some of the city's transportation projects.

Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue, said if approved the sales tax increase won't take effect until April 1 at earliest with the city getting its first revenue two months later in June.

Businesses must have 75 days notice before a change in the sales tax so it can be done only once every three months, he said.

A Transportation Benefit District is an independent taxing agency of the city. This revenue source only can be used to fund approved transportation projects within the city.

Eligible projects range from safety projects to rehabilitation of existing facilities and new sidewalk and road construction.

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