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City of Kent seeks to retain state-shared revenue

Kent city officials will lobby legislators for a continued share of state revenue in 2013. - COURTESY PHOTO
Kent city officials will lobby legislators for a continued share of state revenue in 2013.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

The city of Kent plans to lobby hard to keep the Legislature from taking away state-shared revenue despite the state's budget struggles.

Kent wants to protect nearly $4.9 million per year it gets in Streamlined Sales Tax mitigation payments as well as another $3.7 million per year it receives in sales tax credits for annexing the Panther Lake area in 2010.

Legislators opened the 2013 session on Monday in Olympia. Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, Councilwoman Dana Ralph and Michelle Wilmot, city community and public affairs manager, met with legislators Monday who represent portions of Kent to present the city's agenda.

"The biggest ones are the retention of state-shared revenues," said Wilmot, who works closely with city contract lobbyist Doug Levy. "With the state budget problems, we've been fearful the Legislature will look to find cuts to help solve the budget issues."

City officials also want to protect state liquor taxes that provide about another $1.7 million to the city for public safety and human service needs.

"It'd be a whole different ballgame if there is a $10 million cut from the state," Wilmot said.

Kent receives Streamlined Sales Tax mitigation funds to help replace lost sales tax revenue when the 2007 Legislature changed how taxes were collected. As a distribution center, Kent initially lost out on revenue because the sales tax is collected in the location where products end up rather than where the products originated.

The annexation sales tax credit is scheduled to last for 10 years to the help the city cover the capital infrastructure costs of annexing 24,000 people in the Panther Lake area.

The state faces a $900 million budget shortfall through the end of June 2015, according to the September report by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Legislators also must spent $1 billion or more to meet its obligation to fully fund basic education as ordered by the state Supreme Court.

"We know they are looking at cuts again," Wilmot said. "And with Gov. Jay Inslee no new taxes pledge, we don't know how it's going to shake out."

Because of re-districting of legislative districts, city officials will work with representatives from District 11, which covers part of the Panther Lake area, as well as District 33 and 47 representatives.

"We like the idea of three more people to look out for us and our interests," Wilmot said.

The 11th District legislators are Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle and State Reps. Steve Berquist, D-Renton and Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila.

City officials also will lobby 33rd District legislators Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent and State Reps. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines and Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines; as well as 47th District legislators Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn and State Reps. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington and Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.

Other key issues for Kent include:

• Retain $7 million appropriation for Briscoe-Desimone Levee improvements along the Green River. A dispute between Kent and King County about who has the better millions-of-dollars plan to repair a 2.7-mile levee stretch to provide better flood protection could put the $7 million in jeopardy. The money would be awarded to Kent through the King County Flood Control District.

• Approve a $1.5 million capital budget local community project request to help Kent extend a east-west bicycle trail to connect the Interurban Trail with the Green River Trail to improve bicycle routes, including a commuter connection to Kent-based REI, where many employees bike to work.

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