Sales tax hike on Lynnwood ballot would pay for road projects

LYNNWOOD — A taxing district within the city of Lynnwood is asking voters to approve a sales tax increase to support road maintenance and projects.

The measure, Proposition 1, would add one-tenth of one percent — a penny for every $10 — to sales tax within city limits. The current sales tax rate in Lynnwood is 9.8 percent.

The measure is being floated by the Lynnwood Transportation Benefit District, which is an independent body made up of city councilmembers.

If approved by voters, the tax would generate an estimated $2 million a year for 10 years. The money could only be used for transportation projects, said Ian Cotton, a councilman and the district’s board president.

Roads compete for city dollars with the police and fire departments, parks and other services, Cotton said. The idea was that sales tax would apply to visitors, shoppers and businesses versus property taxes, which affect homeowners, he said.

“We’re asking residents in Lynnwood to make sure there is dedicated funding for our road infrastructure that other people are going to help pay for because they’re using (the roads),” he said. “If this ballot measure doesn’t get passed, we have to fund roads with things like property tax or levies. We have to come up with some way to take care of our roads.”

Each year, city staff would review priorities for spending the revenue, said Jeff Elekes, the deputy public works director. The paving program in particular is hurting, he said.

“To keep our streets up, just our basic maintenance, we’re not sustainable at the moment,” he said.

The money also could be used for major road projects such as the overhaul of 36th Avenue W. and the proposed construction of an I-5 overpass at Poplar Way.

A similar tax measure in 2014 failed to garner voter support. The proposed increase was reduced by half in response, officials said. Proposition 1 requires 50 percent of the vote to pass in the November general election.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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