San Juan County residents lean towards maintaining state tax hikes

San Juan County residents lean towards maintaining state tax hikes

Unlike the rest of the state, San Juan County residents voted to maintain almost all of Washington’s tax increases in November’s general election.

Local voters approved two measures by roughly 50 percent each, through what are known as advisory votes. While the votes create no actual changes, it gives Washingtonians a chance to weigh in on issues state lawmakers enacted earlier in the year. In San Juan County — with the second highest voter turnout in the state’s last election — it seems about half the residents are OK with paying more.

“If we see that [a tax increase] will have a positive effect on the lives of our people, we vote for it,” said Clare Kelm, president of the League of Women Voters of the San Juans, about islanders.

Last summer, state property taxes and commercial fishing licensing fees were increased to cover new changes to Washington’s public education spending. Online sales taxes were expanded, as well, for the same purpose. San Juan County residents voted to maintain that legislation in last November’s election, except for the sales tax change, by less than a 2 percent difference.

David Meiland, of San Juan, said he voted to raise taxes.

“Our elected representatives need to be able to raise money to fund state operations and services, and the vast majority of what they are trying to fund is important to us,” he said.

Perhaps voting differently than the overall state population, can be chalked up to another part of the “island way.”

“Because we are an island community, we are somewhat cut off from the rest of Washington, which leads us to see the importance of taking care of our own,” said Kelm. “We get out and vote because we know it makes a difference in our small population.”

To read more about local property tax increase, read “San Juan County residents face property tax increase, mostly from state.”