LAKE STEVENS — Voters in Lake Stevens are agreeing to pay a higher sales tax to provide students with safer routes to schools and drivers with better roads.
The two-tenths of a penny increase will boost the sales tax rate in the city to 9.3% starting April 1, 2023. It will generate an estimated $19 million in the next decade. The tax will expire in 10 years, though it can be renewed by voters.
“I’m excited that it passed,” Mayor Brett Gailey said Monday. “I’m pleased that the voters saw value in the transportation benefit district and the list of projects we have that are weighted toward schools and getting students to and from them safely.”
The measure creates the citywide benefit district and establishes the source of funding for use in providing safe sidewalk connections to schools, maintaining streets and constructing congestion relief projects. Money can also go to improving trails and making walkways accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Revenue can also be used as matching funds for state and federal grants.
City Manager Gene Brazel said that’s critically important “so we can stretch tax dollars further and accomplish more projects. We will continue to actively pursue grant opportunities and will report back to our community on these improvements that community support made happen.”
The City Council will decide how to spend sales tax receipts once dollars start arriving next summer. Council members already have a list of priorities. They drew it up in July when they decided to put the proposition in front of voters.
While raising taxes isn’t popular, the City Council decided the transportation sales tax would be the most equitable approach because those who visit the city and spend money will be chipping in too.
“It’s important that visitors to Lake Stevens shopping at Target or Costco or other major retailers help pay their fair share to maintain and improve our roadways. That’s the benefit of a (Transportation Benefit District) — it’s not just residents paying for these projects, but visitors to our city as well,” City Council President Steve Ewing said in a statement issued in July.
Final results of the Nov. 8 election will be certified Nov. 29.