Vehicles are parked in front of boutique-style businesses on the brick road portion of 270th Street on July 22, in Historic West Downtown in Stanwood. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Vehicles are parked in front of boutique-style businesses on the brick road portion of 270th Street on July 22, in Historic West Downtown in Stanwood. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Stanwood voters embrace sales tax to pay for street work

Nearly two-thirds of voters backed a measure to keep the two-tenths of a percent sales tax for maintaining streets, sidewalks and more.

STANWOOD — Voters had a chance this month to reduce Stanwood’s sales tax a tiny bit.

They overwhelmingly said no.

With nearly every ballot in the Nov. 8 election counted, a measure to renew a 0.2% transportation sales tax is passing with 65.2%. Overall, 2,102 residents backed Proposition 1 and 1,123 opposed as of Monday’s tally.

“We are very grateful to our voters who spoke strongly in favor of having good streets and sidewalks,” Mayor Sid Roberts said in an email response to questions.

Voters first approved the tax in 2013 by 68 percent. It would have expired next summer if the ballot measure failed. Now, this sliver of retail sales tax that adds 20 cents to every $100 of spending will be in effect for another decade. The city’s tax rate is currently 9.3%.

City officials estimate it will generate about $550,000 each year for the transportation benefit fund. Those dollars will be used to maintain and improve Stanwood’s transportation system in a variety of ways.

In the past decade, Stanwood spent about $3.6 million of its collections on more than a dozen pavement preservation projects; six sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act improvement projects; and LED lighting upgrades, according to city officials.

The city has also used about $2.1 million in collections as matching funds for state and federal transportation grants. That resulted in projects that have created more than 5 miles of new or resurfaced roads, about a half-mile of new sidewalks and 153 ADA-compliant ramp upgrades, according to the city.

Going forward Stanwood can continue getting significant and costly projects in the queue for those vital matching state and federal dollars, Roberts said.

“For instance, (sales tax) funds will help us pave some of the needed sidewalks on 80th Ave NW that are critical for safety,” he said. “On that project, about $100k of (transportation benefit district) funds will be used but the total cost is about $1.2 million.”

Some of the money may also go to help achieve a long range endeavor known as Twin City Mile Project, he said. This is an ambitious undertaking to revitalize and beautify a stretch of the city’s downtown.

The vote “validated what our citizens had told us, i.e they value good streets and sidewalks,” Roberts said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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