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King County receives many different types of revenues. These include tax revenues, charges for services, grants, interest earnings and others. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of the types of revenues received for the overall county in 2019.


Figure 1. Source of County Revenues-Countywide

As can be seen, on a countywide basis, charges for services make up the largest source of revenues for King County. These include revenues the county receives from providing services like wastewater treatment, solid waste disposal, airport facilities and transit. The next two categories are property and sales taxes which together make up over 38% of countywide revenues. These include all property tax levies in the county levy including the non-voted regular levy, the levy lid lifts and levies for transportation, marine, conservation futures, bond redemption, emergency medical services and the roads levy. Sales taxes are made up of the local option sales tax, the metro transit sales tax and those for mental health and criminal justice. Grants make up approximately 17.6% of revenues and include both capital and operating grants, Miscellaneous other taxes, Coronavirus relief, and interest revenue make up the remainder of county revenues.

Figure 1 indicates revenues for the County as a whole, but King County also accounts for the goods and services it provides in two different sub-classifications; governmental activities and business activities. These sub-classifications are important since they highlight a very different revenue structure depending on the type of service.

Government activities are those that are recognized as basic government services like policing, courts, elections, and human services. Figure 2 indicates the revenue composition for King County’s governmental activities.


Figure 2. Source of County Revenues-Government Activities

Service charges are the second largest source of revenues at 32.1%. If taxes are aggregated, they make up a largest share (~45%) of general government revenues. Capital and operating grants make up about 11% of general government funding and interest payments represent about 1.5%. The County received Coronavirus relief in 2020, which was a significant portion of governmental revenues. 

Figure 3 indicates revenues for business type activities. As mentioned, business-type activities are those intended to recover all or a significant portion of their costs through user fees and charges to external users of goods and services. Included are the operation of the County’s public transportation system, wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste disposal, airport and other services. Also included is the operation of the King County Marine District.


Figure 3. Source of County Revenues-Business Activities

As can be seen from Figure 3, 43.4% of revenues for business-type activities come from service charges and 28.4% from sales taxes. This sales tax revenue is the 0.9% tax levied countywide in support of metro transit. Transit also receives a small amount of property taxes which makes up about 1.6% overall. The remaining revenues are grants which total about 25%.

All values for these figures were sourced from page 11 of the "Management's Discussion and Analysis" section of the 2020 King County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).