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Transportation tax returning to ballot

The proposed Transportation Benefit District sales tax that voters narrowly defeated in November 2008 is headed to the ballot again in November 2009.

The vote was 5-1 with Councilor Walt Schubert voting "no." Councilor Paul McHugh was absent.

The council had until Aug. 11 to decide whether to put the two-tenths of

1 percent sales tax increase on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The measure, which would have applied within the boundaries of the

Sequim School District, not just the city, was defeated by 61 votes in the November 2008 election.

The proposed sales tax increase would fund transportation projects listed in the city's transportation improvement plan.

It would not apply to groceries, prescriptions, gasoline, rent or mortgage payments.

Councilor Ken Hays said he couldn't name names but he knew of "significant" support among business owners for the sales tax increase.

"So it would be a mistake not to support it," he said.

Mayor Laura Dubois said a well-supported, well-run educational campaign would tell people that people living outside Sequim and tourists also would pay the increased tax.

The first money wouldn't be collected until July 2010, and this would take pressure off the city's general fund, she said.

Councilor Bill Huizinga said he voted against the proposal last time because the timing was wrong. But this is asking people if they want to impose the tax upon themselves, so this time he will vote "yes."

Councilor Walt Schubert said no survey of businesses has been done and the higher sales tax would put Sequim businesses at a disadvantage.

The two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax would bring Sequim's retail sales tax to 8.6 percent compared to 8.4 percent for Forks, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, and unincorporated Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and unincorporated Kitsap County have 8.6 percent sales tax rates.



Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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