This Washington

Legislators Propose "Scrub" of Special Tax Districts

By Erica C. Barnett January 27, 2012

A proposal sponsored by state Rep. Deb Eddy (D-48) and four other Democrats would create a new state commission to examine the effectiveness of every special taxing district in the state—small taxing districts created for specific purposes— and decide whether they should be consolidated into the larger government entities of which they are a part---from the Port of Seattle to the King County Ferry District, to "the television special taxing district in Eastern Washington," says bill cosponsor Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36).

There are about 1,650 special taxing districts in the state of Washington.

"The goal is to do a very comprehensive scrub of all the tax districts," Carlyle says. "We don't have oversight of special taxing districts to review whether or not they should exist."

Carlyle wrote about special taxing districts late last year, when he applauded 115 Washington State mayors for asking the state legislature to seriously examine Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed budget cuts to local governments, but urged them to also advocate for an overhaul of the state's special taxing districts.

"I would argue that our current construct of the money flow from Olympia to counties to cities–as well as hundreds of special purpose taxing districts–cries out for systemwide reexamination," Carlyle wrote. "The question is ... can we better organize these districts in such a fashion as to allow counties and cities to more effectively control their taxpayers’ resources in less of a ‘silo’ fashion than we see today?"
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