Cowlitz County commissioners on Tuesday will consider taking advantage of a new law that could help it raise more than $100,000 to help pay for affordable housing and homeless programs.
State lawmakers passed the legislation this spring to allow cities and counties to keep 0.0073% to 0.0146% of the sales tax collected in their jurisdictions for eligible homeless programs.
The commissioners are set to vote on a resolution of intent to allow the county to claim the revenue. The action would not increase taxes, just steer a larger potion of sales tax revenue to the county.
The amount the county could get depends on how many cities also decide to collect the tax. At least Longview is pursuing it, and the City Council will vote on the matter Thursday, City Manager Kurt Sacha said. The state estimates the tax would raise about $72,000 for the city, he said.
Elaine Placido, county community services director, said the state estimates Cowlitz County would collect $145,000 to $150,000 if one city also authorizes the tax.
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The money can be used for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable or supportive housing, operating and maintaining affordable housing, or for rental assistance. The money must be used to assist people whose income is at or below 60% of the county’s median income.
Commissioner Joe Gardner said the tax is a way to address the county’s housing emergency, which was declared in 2017. He said the county will develop a plan when it’s clear how much money it would get.
“We’re open to new ideas for ways to utilize dollars already generated in our county,” he said.
Cities and counties must adopt the legislation by July 28, 2020.