Important aspects of the bill, as understood by a bill-reading novice:
- The bill, in essence, authorizes counties or cities to institute a restaurant tax of no more than five-tenths of one percent of the selling price. It does not, however, authorize any state funds.
- Once a threshold of revenue is reached (approximately $5 million), any extra monies received would be doled out as follows: 70% for “art museums, cultural museums, heritage museums, heritage and preservation programs, the arts, and the performing arts” and 30% for “stadium purposes … acquisition of open space lands; youth sports activities; and tourism promotion.”
- This, however, is only for revenues up ‘til 2013. From 2013 to 2015, all revenues collected go towards retiring any remaining debt on the arena. From 2016 to 2020, all remaining revenues go to a “stadium and exhibition center account.” After 2021, all revenues go to a “special county arts, regional center, low-income housing, and community development fund.”
- As far as I can tell, there is no end date to the tax.
- A car rental tax could also be utilized.
Again, the most important thing to note, from what I can tell, is that the state is merely giving cities and counties authorization to collect the tax. Rep. Hunter has determined that the state should not be involved in the KeyArena situation – perhaps wisely so, given the political climate in Olympia. If this tax can be instituted on a Seattle-only basis, it has a much more likely chance of passing (granted, that chance is still low, in my opinion, but it’s more likely to happen in Seattle than, say, Tumwater).
All that said, there’s no sense getting too worked up about this proposal. There are many more revisions and changes to come, naturally, and the bill as we see it today will not be the bill as we see it at the end.
Still, I would like to quote one particular part of the proposal which made me smile:
“The county shall not lease a public stadium that is financed directly or indirectly by bonds to which the tax is pledged to, or authorize the use of the public stadium by, a professional major league sports franchise unless the sports franchise gives the right of first refusal to purchase the sports franchise, upon its sale, to local government.”
Man, where was that language when we needed it …