Minimal losses to local revenues in 2020 are largely offset by additional federal relief

Feb 24, 2022
Written by WR Communications

Local government taxes and revenues were largely sustained in 2020. State taxes increased by 4.2% in FY 2020 and by 11.7% in FY 2021. Meanwhile, in CY 2020, taxes grew by 5.3% in Washington’s counties and fell by 2.9% in Washington’s cities. However, from 2010 through 2017, city tax growth exceeded that of the state.

In 2020, total county revenues grew by 16.6%, and federal revenues and grants to counties increased by 248.2%. Total revenues decreased for five counties, and taxes decreased for four counties. In 2020, total city revenues increased by 0.6%, and federal revenues and grants to cities increased by 102.9%. Total revenues decreased for 122 cities, and taxes decreased for 97 cities.

Losses to revenues (not including federal revenues) may be backfilled by certain federal relief money. Compared to a generous calculation of potential revenue specified by federal rule, 30 counties and 201 cities lost revenue, but only three counties and 82 cities had a revenue loss that could not be fully covered by their federal allocation (for a total not covered of $197.1 million). However, by simply comparing 2020 to 2019 revenues, just 12 counties and 159 cities lost revenue, and federal allocations could cover all but $48.2 million of the losses.

Read the Washington Research Council report here.