FILE - Bellevue, Washington

Alpine Lakes Wilderness mountain peaks rise behind the Bellevue, Washington, skyline.

(The Center Square) – The city of Bellevue had the second-largest drop in sales tax revenue last year among Washington municipalities, according to a new report from the Office of the Washington State Auditor.

Bellevue’s sales tax collection was down more than $19 million from the year before, decreasing from $96.3 million to $77.3 million; a 19.7% decline.

Overall sales tax collection in Washington was down 4.5% last year, for a $76.7 million decline. Bellevue’s drop made up one-quarter of the total decline.

The auditor’s office, however, reported that “167 of 272 cities (that's over 60%) saw an increase in their sales tax collections over pre-pandemic 2019.

“We think each city has its own story that explains the increase or decrease," the report said. "We shouldn’t assume any one factor is responsible for changes.”

Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson said the drop in sales tax receipts, in part, “was due to the shift to on-line sales.”

“As Bellevue’s tax collection went down, we saw increases in our neighboring cities like Issaquah and Sammamish,” Robinson said.

Sales tax receipts in Issaquah and Sammamish climbed $1.1 million and $46,503, respectively, according to the report. Nearby cities Redmond and Kirkland also increased sales tax receipts by $2 million and $1.9 million, respectively.

“The state temporarily stopping car sales also impacted us,” Robinson said. The city has two clusters of car dealerships, along Interstate 405 and State Route 520.

Brad Harwood, communications director for the city of Bellevue, blamed the drop in sales tax receipts on the “COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown, which lasted from March to June” of last year.

“Fortunately, Bellevue has had a strong construction market which has put the city in a better position than some other jurisdictions,” Harwood said.

Regional Editor

Jeremy Lott is a regional editor at The Center Square overseeing the Pacific Northwest. Lott previously worked as an editor for a number of publications and founded three of the Real Clear Politics family of websites.