Snohomish approves creation of tax area for roads

SNOHOMISH — The city will not create a new tax to maintain its streets unless voters approve it.

That’s the promise made by the City Council on Tuesday as it approved the creation of a transportation benefit district. The council said any new taxes proposed by the district will be put to a public vote.

At the meeting, the council listened to public comments where most people said they are against the earlier proposal to collect $20 from every resident when they renew their car tabs.

The city wanted to use the money, estimated at about $115,000 annually, to help pay for maintenance of city’s 41 miles of roads.

Resident Dave Douglas told the council the increase in car tabs would bring the least amount of revenue, makes living in the city more expensive and lets those who put more wear and tear on the streets off the hook.

“Heavy trucks and heavy 18-wheelers that park on our streets are those that damage our streets,” he said. “Those are the ones that must pay for the maintenance.”

Morgan Davis, of Snohomish, said the burden to fix the roads should be on the big cars and trailers that use the city’s streets, and asked that any new taxes first be approved by the public.

That is what the council said that’s what they will do, even though state law allows the transportation benefit district to collect up to $20 in car tab fees without a public vote.

The district, which is comprised of the City Council, may also consider increasing property tax, increase sales tax and increasing car tabs up to $100. All of those actions require a public vote.

The six council members present voted in favor of the district. Councilwoman Melody Clemans was absent.

Councilman Tom Hamilton said creating the transportation district is important to keeping the city’s streets maintained, but he will lobby the rest of the council to put any proposed tax or fee increase to voters. Councilmen Dean Randall and Derrick Burke expressed similar sentiments.

Creating the district will not only create revenue, Councilman Greg Guedel said, but would help the city plan future projects.

The district will cover the city’s limits and all future annexations. The council’s first meeting as a benefit district is scheduled to be on December, City Manager Larry Bauman said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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