This is complicated, but bear with us for the long-winded explanation: Currently, all property in Washington is subject to property tax each year based on the property’s value, except property specifically exempt by law. Several property tax exemptions exist for nonprofit organizations (i.e. nonprofit public assembly halls or meeting places). However, this exemption does not exist for religious nonprofit organizations (e.g. Our Lady of Perpetual Help). Vendors who sell items at Sausage Fest (small business owners from our community) would be required to pass along 51% of all monies earned to Fest. As you can imagine, this would make it difficult for vendors to turn a profit at Fest. Losing those vendors would mean a significant loss of income for Fest and, in turn, Immaculate Conception Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. Remember: 100% of all proceeds from Fest go to support ICOLPH. More than $80,000 was raised in 2012 to help support Catholic education by Everett’s oldest and most popular community event.
As a result, Representatives Sells, McCoy, and Ryu have introduced HB 1215 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2013&bill=1215) which would allow for some tax exemption for religious nonprofit organization events. But the bill needs support to get out of committee.
Here’s the short call to action: How can you help? Contact your legislator (especially those outside the 39th district) and ask them to support House Bill 1215. Without this support, the bill will die in committee and put this year’s Fest in jeopardy.
Find your representative here (http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/MembersByDistrict.aspx), contact them, ask them to support HB 1215 and keep the Sausage Fest alive and well in Everett!!