One wrinkle in the plan for the Affordable Housing Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) that is on the November 6 ballot concerns its "inextricable linkage" to the Land Bank REET. In 2002, lobbying by people from San Juan County including one county Commissioner, resulted in a requirement that an affordable housing REET can only be imposed if a land conservation tax is also in effect. The Land Bank tax must be at the maximum 1 percent.
The proposed Affordable Housing REET would collect a half-percent tax on real estate transactions for a period of 12 years - from December 2018 through 2030. The buyer would pay 99 percent of the REET, the seller would pay one percent.
According to the county's Affordable Housing Coordinator Ryan Page, the Prosecutor's Office explained the linkage. If the Land Bank REET is not renewed - it expires in 2026 - the Affordable Housing REET would expire four years early - in 2026 rather than 2030.
Page told the audience at a League of Women's Voters forum on September 10 in the San Juan Island Grange that the county will not be bonding or spending money before it is collected.
The Land Bank REET - one percent tax paid by purchasers - was originally approved in 1990, renewed for an additional 12 years until 2014. Voters approved by a 442 vote margin a 12-year extension in November 2011. That vote renewed the REET for a third 12-year period. It expires in 2026.
According to information posted on the county's website, an estimated $15.2 million is expected to be collected in the 12 years. It is to be used for development of affordable housing including acquisition, building, rehabilitation, and maintenance for very low, low, and moderate income persons and those with special needs.