Monday, July 11, 2011

REET Flexibility Bill—helping cities and taxpayers

State Rep. Larry Springer’s 2011 REET Flexibility Bill, aka House Bill 1953, is already at work helping cities and taxpayers—even though the bill won’t officially take effect until July 22.

A recent press release from the City of Kirkland is announcing that “Thanks to a new state law that allows flexibility in the use of existing revenue from Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET), some Kirkland parks and public works maintenance services affected by budget reductions will soon get restored.”

The REET Flexibility Bill doesn’t raise or authorize any new taxes, but it does give local communities more flexibility in how they can use existing REET collections to meet local needs. In the past, these revenues could only be used to finance the creation of new capital projects and facilities. But beginning July 22, communities can use these funds to maintain existing facilities.

The Kirkland announcement details how the Kirkland City Council will use their newly won fiscal flexibility to reopen park facilities, do needed road maintenance, and generally to “use existing REET funds to help protect our investments and our quality of life.” Similar success stories will soon be repeated in local communities across Washington.

And there is more good news coming for cities and counties: Springer also led passage of the 2011 Fiscal Relief for Cities and Counties Act (House Bill 1478), which also takes effect on July 22. The fiscal relief bill will save local governments millions of dollars by giving them more time to meet a variety of non-urgent state mandates and paperwork requirements.