Small Town News

Land Management

State legislation would bring affordable housing to county

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

- Advertisement -

Mason County, especially north Mason County, has a shortage of affordable multifamily housing.

Apartments provide flexible, affordable housing for our workforce. Apartments within our urban growth areas (UGAs) mean housing is accessible to services, transit and helps create a vibrant community with the diversity and population we need to attract retail development.

Cities and large counties have a tax incentive available to encourage multifamily housing in urban centers. State law authorizes an eight or 12-year property tax exemption on the value of new or rehabilitation construction of multi-unit housing with four units or more. Smaller counties are not eligible to offer this tax incentive.

Sen. Tim Sheldon and Rep. Kathy Haigh have sponsored legislation to expand this tax exemption to rural counties with one incorporated city in unincorporated urban growth areas served by sewer, namely, north Mason County. To be eligible for the tax exemption, 20 percent of the units must be priced so they are affordable for low or moderate-income residents. Thanks to the hard work of our legislators, both the House and Senate versions of these bills are successfully moving along the process. House Bill 2738, sponsored by Haigh, has passed out of its policy committee and was scheduled for a hearing in the House Finance Committee at 8 a.m. Monday in House Hearing Room A. Senate Bill 6330, sponsored by Sheldon, has passed out of its policy committee and was scheduled for a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee at 3:30 p.m. Monday in Senate Hearing Room 4. The intent of the tax exemption is to encourage density in urban centers. Unincorporated UGAs in smaller counties are in just as much need, if not more so for affordable, workforce housing. Rural counties need incentives to encourage densities in UGAs to meet the intent of the Growth Management Act. It is harder to encourage density in UGAs in rural counties because most of the affordable housing is located in rural lands.

These bills would help make sewer rates more affordable in Belfair and Al-lyn. Unincorporated UGAs are required to have urban services (sewers). Due to the lack of housing, sewer rates are extraordinarily high making it difficult for sewer service to be sustainable. This bill would help increase sewer hookups and create economies of scale.

Please help support affordable housing in Mason County. Contact legislators serving on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and House Finance Committee and urge them to pass these bills out of Committee.

Terri Jeffreys is a Mason County commissioner. She can be reached at

Copyright 2014 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: February 13, 2014

More from Shelton-Mason County Journal