Town sales tax to rise to 8.3 percent starting April 1—no foolin’

Revenue generated by increase, two-tenths of one percent, is dedicated exclusively for funding the town's newly created and voter-approved transportation benefit district. That .02-percent increase is expected to generate roughly $240,000 a year.

The sales tax rate in Friday Harbor will ring in at 8.3 percent beginning April 1, and that’s no joke.

Revenue generated by increase, two-tenths of one percent, is dedicated exclusively for funding the town’s newly created and voter-approved transportation benefit district. That .02-percent increase is expected to generate roughly $240,000 a year.

In addition to Friday Harbor, consumers in the cities of North Bend, Seattle, Tonasket and in Pacific County will pay more in sales tax beginning April 1 as well.

Approved by a 115-vote margin in November, the .02-percent transportation improvement district tax upped the sales tax rate in Friday Harbor from 8.1 percent to 8.3 percent. The town sales rate increased from 7.8 percent, among the lowest in the state at that time, to 8.1 percent following voter-approval in 2012 of the so-called public safety sales tax.

Consumers in Friday Harbor, North Bend, Pacific County, Seattle and Tonasket will see their sales tax rate increase on purchases starting Wednesday, April 1.

Under state law, revenue generated by the transportation improvement district sales tax can be used only for improvement projects listed on the town’s six-year transportation improvement plan. The tax carries a sunset clause and is slated to expire in 10 years unless renewed by voters.

While revenue generated by the tax won’t cover the cost of a major improvement project by itself, town officials maintain it is well-situated to be used as leverage for loans, grants or the “local match” typically required by the state, at 10 percent, for grants for local road projects, similar to the financing regimen that funded the recent reconstruction of Blair Avenue.

The town six-year transportation improvement plan includes more than $10 million in street improvements.

— Scott Rasmussen