Possible City of Olympia Income Tax Initiative
- A citizens group is currently collecting signatures to send an initiative to the Olympia City Council. The initiative would create a new 1.5 percent City tax on household income over $200,000 to fund community college tuition for Olympia residents who graduate from Olympia high schools.
- Olympia prides itself on being a progressive city that understands the connection between access to educational opportunities for our citizens and a prosperous, vital community where people want to live, work and raise their families.
- This issue has fostered a robust public dialogue about the needs of education and the limits of municipal power.
- The Olympia City Council sought to better understand the legal implications of the income tax for the City and received a public briefing from the City’s long-time legal advisor Hugh Spitzer. They learned there are significant legal concerns with the initiative.
- City staff had important questions about what administrative challenges the City would face to implement the initiative goals.
- Given the concerns identified in the Opportunity for Olympia initiative, the Council voted at their May 17, meeting to direct City staff to explore options to consider and draft an ordinance that attempts to address the concerns found in the initiative and that places a referendum on the November ballot.
- The Council ordinance would enact a graduated income tax for city residents to support one year of no cost tuition at a community or technical college for City of Olympia high school graduates and GED recipients (or an equivalent amount for those who chose a public four-year institution).
- No decisions have been made by the Council at this point.
- The Council will review the draft ordinance at their June 21, meeting and determine then whether or not to move it on to the November ballot for the voters of Olympia to make the final decision.
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