Bellingham City Councilman Dan Hammill recently proposed a new sales tax, with revenue dedicated to addressing the City’s ongoing homelessness crisis. The proposed sales tax would be .1%, with Hammill and the City indicating that it could raise up to $3M that would be used to address root causes of homelessness and provide services for individuals suffering through the crisis.
The City would use authority granted by House Bill 1590, signed into law by Governor Inslee last year. The law allows cities and counties to impose local sales taxes to address housing without the approval of a majority of voters or the need to hold a special election.
“We appreciate Councilman Hammill’s desire to address this crisis,” said Barbara Chase, Executive Director of the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA). “However, a sales tax is a regressive tax. With the damage to the tourism industry because of the pandemic, the City cannot depend on tourists and visitors to pay this tax. Increasing the sales tax will have the effect of placing the burden on Whatcom County’s already struggling families. This crisis needs to be addressed, but the lack of affordable housing in our community is a problem that cannot be solved with a new, regressive tax.”
You can contact Mayor Seth Fleetwood through email at email@example.com or call him at (360) 778-8100.
To follow the WBA’s advocacy efforts, please visit the WBA Policy Center and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about our vision to return Whatcom County’s business community to prosperity.