Sales tax increase would fund road projects in Marysville

MARYSVILLE — Voters in Marysville will decide in the April 22 special election whether or not to fund needed transportation projects with a .2 percent increase in the local sales tax.

If Proposition 1 passes, Marysville’s sales tax would rise to 8.8 percent from 8.6 percent, or 20 cents on a $100 purchase.

Everyone who shops in Marysville or uses the city’s streets or services — not just residents — will pay the tax.

It is expected that the tax increase will raise $1.6 million per year going forward.

The money is being collected by a special Transportation Benefit District, a separate taxing entity the city council formed Jan. 13 which is permitted to collect tax revenue solely for building, improving, repairing or preserving transportation projects.

The TBD is governed by the city council. Projects to be funded from the TBD will come from a list based on a study that evaluated the condition of all 201 miles of roads in the city and identified those in failing or near-failing condition.

Over the next 10 years, $16 million in TBD revenue would fund 33 pavement preservation projects on arterials, collectors and residential streets, seven potential capital improvement projects, and sidewalk projects for increasing pedestrian and bicycle safety and access.

Part of the reason for seeking the TBD funding now is because of the dire need of more funding to improve the city’s streets, officials said.

While the 10-year project list covers the most critical needs in the city, it covers just those that can be expected to be paid for out of the funds available.

Larger projects, such as the ongoing plan to expand the I-5 interchange south of downtown, would still be reliant on funding from state and federal sources, said Kevin Nielsen, Marysville’s public works director.

The primary purposes of the TBD are doing overlays to maintain the road surface in its existing conditions and to improve pedestrian facilities.

“If you don’t do these overlays and you actually let the road deteriorate you have to do a total reconstruct of the road’s surface,” Nielsen said.

With many of the city’s traditional funding sources, such as gas taxes, constrained by initiatives, the city has had to look elsewhere to find money just to maintain its existing road conditions.

“Maintaining existing road surface is a huge cost,” Nielsen said.

Overlays might provide opportunities for pedestrian improvements, he said, for example, by widening the overlay by five feet for walkers and bikers.

Another reason for putting the sales tax increase on the ballot is the need to replace federal and state funding that is drying up. While the city has successfully acquired funding for major projects such as widening State Avenue, the expectation is that such grants will be more difficult to obtain in the future.

“Transportation packages and transportation funding in general and competing for grants is going to become so competitive just because there’s not a lot of money available for projects,” Nielsen said.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed out April 3. Ballots must be mailed or deposited into a drop box by April 22.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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