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Local retail sales down, state property taxes up

Mercer Island businesses and realtors had a dismal first quarter. Taxable retail sales for Island merchants fell by more than 20 percent for the first quarter of 2009 over the first quarter last year.

For the first three months of 2008, taxable retail sales (TRS) from businesses on Mercer Island totalled $87,506,000. A year later, just a few short months after the financial sector meltdown rippled across the country, retail sales on the Island totaled $69,666,000, down by 20.4 percent.

The losses here mirror the trend seen in nearly all towns and cities across in Washington state. The decline was especially acute in King County with Seattle TRS falling by 11.2 percent, Bellevue’s numbers fell by 13.5 percent and Issaquah was down by 21.6 percent. According to the data from the State Department of Revenue, just one incorporated city statewide, Shelton, had an increase in TRS of 6 percent.

In regards to property tax revenue, the state reported that property tax revenue statewide increased by 5.4 percent to $8.6 billion in 2009, with nearly 70 percent of the increase resulting from new construction added to the tax rolls and higher voter-approved levies.

About 1.6 percent — $128 million of the $439 million in additional taxes over 2008 — was due to regular tax increases on existing properties. The rest resulted from taxes on new construction and voter-approved tax increases for schools and other taxing districts.

For more information, go to www.rev.wa.gov.

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