The Skagit County commissioners plan to vote on a new funding source for affordable housing, potentially bringing in up to $5 million over 20 years.

Senate Bill 1406, passed by the state Legislature last session, allows city and county governments to recapture a portion of their state sale tax and invest it locally in affordable housing or rental assistance programs.

“There’s no change to the retailers,” said Susan Musselman, a consultant hired by the county, at a workshop Wednesday. “It’s just that when (sales tax money) goes to the state, it gets redirected to the county.”

Based on Department of Revenue estimates, the county can expect to retain about $466,000 annually, based on 2017-18 sales tax revenue, she said.

Kayla Schott-Bresler, assistant director of county Public Health, said this recaptured tax money can be used on any project benefiting households making less than 60 percent of the county’s median income.

“This means that one quarter of Skagit County households qualify,” she said.

Based on the state’s income estimates, Schott-Bresler guessed the county could possibly fund the construction of 240 affordable rental housing units.

“Pretty much anything the county would want to do in the realm of rental housing, this bill would allow,” she said.

At the workshop, the county commissioners spoke in support of the program.

“The biggest crisis we’re facing is inadequate housing,” said Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt. “If we don’t provide more affordable housing and workforce housing, our economy will collapse.”

Musselman said the bill allows cities to retain half of the tax revenue collected in their boundaries themselves. But Commissioner Lisa Janicki said she met with city mayors, and they plan to let the county collect the full amount.

Schott-Bresler said the commissioners plan to take action on a resolution indicating their intent to implement the program as soon as July 8.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH{p style=”margin-bottom: 0in;”}

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