Stanwood considers sales tax hike to fix roads

STANWOOD — The Stanwood City Council plans a public hearing on a proposed sales tax increase to pay for street repairs.

The hearing is set for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Stanwood-Camano school administration board room, 26920 Pioneer Highway.

The council will take public comment on the proposed plan to form a transportation benefit district that would place a measure on the Feb. 12 ballot. If approved, the ballot measure would allow the city’s sales tax rate to increase by two-tenths of a cent to fund transportation improvement projects such as street reconstruction, street preservation and sidewalk and trail improvements.

“Street maintenance is second only to public safety on the list of vital services. Street maintenance is also an important part of the city’s economic development efforts. The city’s streets are often the first impression visitors, potential business owners and customers have when they enter Stanwood,” said Mayor Dianne White in a statement from the city. “Stanwood spends about $280,000 a year on maintenance to keep our roads in good condition. This includes street re-striping, pavement overlays, sidewalk repairs and installation.”

The street fund is dependent on the motor vehicle excise tax to pay for needed repairs. Revenues for street repair have been declining for the past decade, city officials said. Since 2008, the city has used one-time revenues and reserve funds for street maintenance and improvements.

A voter-approved sales tax increase of two-tenths of a cent would amount to 2 cents on every $10 taxable purchase. The estimated revenue generated from a sales tax increase would be $200,000 a year.

Stanwood’s current sales tax is 8.6 percent. If approved by the voters, the sales tax would increase to 8.8 percent 75 days after the election is certified. If approved by the voters, the ballot measure would authorize the increase for a period of 10 years.

Capital projects that could be funded by the sales tax increase include rebuilding 272nd from 72nd at the high school to Pioneer Highway, rebuilding 284th from 84th to 68th and sidewalks on 68th Avenue, 80th Avenue and 101st Avenue, which are walking routes to schools.

Following the hearing, the city council may take the first step and approve forming the transportation benefit district.

“A transportation benefit district is a separate and independent taxing district created for the sole purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing and funding transportation improvements,” said City Administrator Deborah Knight.

Under state law, a city can implement up to a $20 per vehicle fee with city council approval, or seek voter approval of a two-tenths of a cent sales tax to fund transportation projects within the district, Knight said.

The deadline for submitting measures for the February ballot is Dec. 28. The council plans to talk about funding transportation maintenance and improvements at meetings set for Thursday, as well as Nov. 19 and Dec. 13.

For more information, contact Knight at 360-629-2181 or email deborah.knight@ci.stanwood.wa.us.

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