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King County v. Taxpayers of King County

949 P.2d 1260 (1997)

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King County v. Taxpayers of King County

Washington Supreme Court

949 P.2d 1260 (1997)

Facts

The owner of the Mariners baseball team worked with King County (plaintiff) to develop a plan for a new baseball stadium for the Mariners. In 1995, the state legislature approved the Stadium Act, which allowed large counties to impose a special sales-and-use tax for the sole purpose of financing a baseball stadium. As authorized under the Stadium Act, King County enacted an ordinance creating a stadium district (the district) and imposing special sales and use taxes, the revenues of which would be solely used to pay for stadium-construction bonds. For example, a 0.017 percent tax was imposed on purchases from stadium restaurants and bars, deducted from the 6.5 percent statewide sales- and use-tax rate. King County then issued $336 million in bonds, which was the amount necessary to finance construction of the baseball stadium. Once constructed, the stadium would be leased to the Mariners under specified terms. For instance, the Mariners would be required to play 90 percent of home games at the new stadium, contribute $45 million to construction costs, and engage in profit sharing with the district. In addition, the Mariners would be required to pay $700,000 in annual rent for 20 years, pay any funding deficiencies for construction costs and parking, insure the stadium, make major repairs, and maintain the stadium. King County initiated a declaratory-judgment action to establish the validity of its stadium-financing plan. The taxpayers of King County (defendant) opposed the bond issuance on various grounds. The trial court entered a declaratory judgment in favor of King County, and the taxpayers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Talmadge, J.)

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