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Cowlitz County commissioners on Tuesday adopted legislation allowing the county to keep a portion of sales tax revenue for homeless and affordable housing programs.

State lawmakers passed 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 move would not increase taxes, just steer a larger potion of sales tax revenue to the county. Elaine Placido, director of community services, said the county could collect $140,000 to $280,000 each year, depending on how many cities decide to also collect the tax.

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 those with an income at or below 60% of the county’s median income.

Placido said the department hasn’t yet decided which programs it would use the money for. The county will begin receiving money back within 30 days, she said.

In other business, the commissioners approved a $36,000 agreement with CFM Strategic Communications for federal lobbying for Mount St. Helens projects. Axel Swanson, chief of staff, said the group will advocate for funding for sediment management and flood protection and for Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood protection for the areas beyond 2035.

Commissioner Dennis Weber said the agreement is the beginning of a “multi-year effort to make sure people understand the importance of these issues.”

The commissioners also:

  • Approved an emergency contract with Advanced Excavating Services not to exceed $150,000 to repair a water main break along Spirit Lake Highway.
  • Approved an amendment to an agreement with Love Overwhelming to fund the organization’s “scattered site” permanent supportive housing program from July 1 through Oct. 31. The previous contract ended on June 30.

Approved a $30,800 statement of work and project task release with Jackola Engineering and Architecture for the new morgue.

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