Sales tax rates to increase in Grays Harbor County on Jan. 1

Consumers in Grays Harbor County will pay a higher sales tax rate on purchases starting Sunday, Jan. 1, with the increase going to support criminal justice and public safety. Voters approved the increase last August.

Some cities have already announced plans to hire additional law enforcement officers with the new revenue.

Shoppers in the cities and unincorporated areas of Grays Harbor County will pay three-tenths of 1 percent more in sales and use tax. The new sales and use tax rate will be 8.8 percent in unincorporated areas and the cities of Cosmopolis, Elma, Hoquiam, McCleary, Montesano, Oakville, Ocean Shores and Westport. The new rate in Aberdeen will be 8.93 percent. For example, a $100 purchase will cost shoppers an additional 30 cents starting Jan. 1. The new rates put Aberdeen above the state average for sales tax, about 8.9 percent.

According to the Proposition 1 ballot title, “At least one third of this additional funding shall be used to preserve the current level of criminal justice or fire protection purposes, and to provide for anticipated future needs.” The proceeds from this increase are split – 60 percent for the county, 40 percent for the cities.

Local and state retail sales and use taxes are the largest revenue producer in the state, bringing in more than $12 billion in 2015. The most current numbers available are from April 1-June 30 and show Aberdeen had just under $100 million in taxable retail sales during that time frame. Unincorporated Grays Harbor County reported over $50 million; Cosmopolis $3 million; Elma just under $15 million; Hoquiam nearly $19 million; McCleary $3 million; Montesano nearly $13 million; Oakville just over a million; Westport a little more than $11 million; and Ocean Shores nearing $30 million.

According to the Department of Revenue, Grays Harbor County has received more than $9 million in tax revenue distributed to cities and unincorporated areas of the county so far this year. The most went to Aberdeen, just over $3 million. Hoquiam got almost $600,000, Ocean Shores more than $800,000. Rounding out the list are Cosmopolis, about $114,000; Elma, just shy of $500,000; McCleary, a little more than $100,000; Montesano, $417,000 and change; Oakville, a little more than $50,000; and Westport, just under $375,000.

The last time Grays Harbor County raised local sales tax rates was in April 2014, according to a statement from the Washington State Department of Revenue. They have a mobile app that can show the appropriate sales tax in any location of the state. Download the version from Revenue’s website: http://dor.wa.gov/TaxRateMobile.