MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to take part in new program to help fund affordable housing.

Under a bill passed by the state Legislature this spring, local governments can recapture a portion of the state sales tax and put it toward affordable housing and rental assistance programs.

Monday’s vote declared the commissioners’ intent to pursue the program. The next steps will be to hold a public hearing and vote on an ordinance to use part of the sales tax for that purpose, Commissioner Lisa Janicki said.

If an ordinance is adopted, the county can expect to bring in about $466,000 a year, or $5 million over 20 years. It would not result in a tax increase.

The tax revenue will assist those whose incomes are at or below 60% of median income. More than one-quarter of Skagit County households are below that mark, according to the resolution passed Monday.

Kayla Schott-Bresler, assistant director of Public Health, said previously she estimated the program would pay for the construction of 240 affordable rental units.

More than half of renters in Skagit County are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their monthly incomes on housing. One-quarter spend more than 50% of their incomes on housing, the resolution states.

The county will pursue the maximum use of the tax allowed under the new state law.


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