By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
STANWOOD — The only people in Snohomish County who will cast ballots in February are Stanwood voters, though their decision on a proposed sales tax increase in the city will affect many others who do business there.
Special election ballots are in the mail today, with just the one measure for voters to consider.
In order to help fund repairs and preservation of streets and sidewalks in Stanwood, the city is proposing a 0.2 percent increase in the sales tax. For example, people who spend $10 would expect to pay an extra 2 cents of sales tax into the city’s transportation fund. The current sales tax rate is 8.6 percent.
Stanwood previously had been taking money out of its capital reserves for street repair projects, said city administrator Deborah Knight.
While looking at the city’s 2013 budget, the City Council decided there needed to be a more sustainable fund for street work, Knight said.
“With sales tax and gas tax revenues continuing to decline, the council decided it needed a long-term funding source,” Knight said.
The state offers two alternatives for cities that need more funding for transportation projects, Knight said. The council considered imposing a $20 vehicle tab fee, which did not require the OK from voters.
Then, however, the burden of street maintenance would’ve fallen to the city’s 6,500 residents instead of equitably distributing the responsibility to include the thousands of other people who daily drive in Stanwood on their ways to schools, services and businesses, Knight said.
The city expects that the proposed sales and use tax would generate about $200,000 a year for the city’s transportation benefit district, with a portion of the revenue going to street projects and the rest going to repay bonds that previously funded street repair.
People who want to know more about the proposed tax are encouraged to attend an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Stanwood Senior and Community Center, 7430 276th St. NW. More information is on the city website under Transportation Benefit District, www.ci.stanwood.wa.us.
Ballots must be mailed by Feb. 12.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.