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Taxes can now EDC salaries

The Island County Economic Development Council will now be able to supplement personnel wages with a portion of county rural sales tax receipts.

The .09 percent sales tax rebate — previously .08 until a legislation change — has historically been awarded to rural counties and earmarked exclusively for economic development, specifically financing public facilities that create or retain businesses and jobs.

Dave Jamieson, Island County chief deputy prosecutor, said at a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting, that state law now allows the rural sales tax fund to pay staff working with economic development policies. An amendment to county code was necessary to align the local and state governments.

“By this bill that was adopted this year by the Legislature, it expanded the allowable uses of the funds to also finance personnel working with economic development policies,” Jamieson said.

The Island County EDC falls under the umbrella and will be able to use some of the dollars to pay personnel. Funding was previously funneled from the county general fund, which was rife with competing interests.

And the EDC is a nonprofit not affiliated with the county, Sharon Hart, Island County EDC executive director, clarified.

“I’m very happy to be back in this fund,” she said. “It takes it out of the general fund and puts it in a dedicated fund. The commissioners passed the ability to consider funding us that way. All of this has now been clarified.”

The .09 percent tax rebate has built a fund of approximately $2 million to be divided among projects that are scrutinized by the Council of Governments and ultimately decided on by the Board of Island County Commissioners.

Before budgeting the special funds, the county will first need to consult with cities, towns and port districts, Jamieson said.

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