City council proposes sales tax increase on ballot

City council proposes sales tax increase on ballot

We all know that roads in Covington are not in the best shape. With the rapid growth we’ve been seeing and what is still to come in Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond and other neighboring cities, our roads will likely only continue to deteriorate. It is a fact that Covington serves as a regional hub with our retail and commercial business options and the variety of healthcare services, including the new hospital. While we have roughly 20,000 residents living in Covington, we have many more that come into Covington on a daily basis to shop and use those services — adding more wear and tear on our roads every day.

You may have heard by now that the city council is asking voters to approve a 0.2 percent increase to Covington’s sales tax to help fund road maintenance. It may be helpful to compare the current method for raising street funds (car tab fees) to the proposed method (sales tax increase).

Residents are currently paying a $20 car tab fee per registered vehicle which goes into the city’s street fund. Currently, this raises about $310,000 a year for street maintenance. With the significant and increasing costs of maintenance, it may take a few years of collecting car tab fees to raise enough funds to implement expensive projects. If there is an average of two registered vehicles per Covington household, then each household is paying $40 per year into the street fund.

The proposed 0.2 percent increase in the city’s sales tax is projected to raise around $1 million a year for street maintenance. This funding would give a more significant boost to the street fund and it would spread the cost to all shoppers in Covington, not just residents. If the average Covington household spent $10,000 on taxable goods in one year, then each household would be paying $20 per year into the street fund. Because this method spreads the cost to all shoppers, not just residents, the city council passed a resolution pledging to rescind the $20 car tab fee if Proposition 1 passes, citing that it is the more fair method to fund street maintenance. Additionally, Covington’s sales tax is already the lowest in King County at 8.6 percent. The proposal would raise it to 8.8 percent, which would still be one of the lowest.

Proposition 1 has both support and opposition, and both sides care about our community. No matter the outcome, we all want what is best for Covington. You can read more information about Proposition 1 by visiting www.covingtonwa.gov/prop1.

Please remember to vote on or before Nov. 6.

Jeff Wagner

Covington Mayor


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