(The Center Square) – The Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday approved a prescription establish a new transportation district within city limits, which would be funded by new taxes.
However, no decision has been made on how the TBD will be funded – typically, either through an annual vehicle registration fee or an increase in the local sales tax. That discussion, as well as the decision on the collection amount, is still pending, said Erik Lamb, Spokane Valley’s deputy city manager.
Lamb said the next step would be to bring a resolution to council that details the administrative responsibilities of the benefit district, a separate government entity with the city council serving as the board of directors.
State Law allows cities and counties to form TBDs to raise revenue specifically dedicated to local transportation improvement projects, including street paving, crack patching, pothole repair, snow removal, cleaning storm sewers, etc. Revenue can accumulate over time for larger projects or provide matching dollars for future grants.
Board member Laura Padden dissented in Tuesday’s 6-1 vote to establish the beneficiary district. Council members Rod Higgins, Brandi Peetz, Arne Woodard, Ben Wick, Tim Hattenburg and Mayor Pam Haley voted in favor of the measure. At the Oct. 17 council meeting, Padden expressed concerns that this would pose an additional financial burden on taxpayers at a time when inflation is high and other public jurisdictions are also seeking relief. ‘money.
But the board has discretion to consider potential funding options, including seeking a public vote.
The majority of Washington’s municipal TBDs are funded by sales tax revenue. State law allows a local increase of up to 0.3 percent, or 3 cents on every $10 purchase. A board can authorize a 0.1 percent increase, but anything higher is subject to voter approval and must be renewed every 10 years. Under the sales tax option, nonresidents making purchases in the Spokane Valley — and driving on city roads — would share in the funding.
With the other common option, a board can impose a base annual registration fee of $20 per vehicle, but voter approval is usually required for higher amounts of up to $100. And the tabulation fee would only apply to residents with vehicles registered within city limits.
According to city documents, Spokane Valley has more than 320 miles of local access streets and nearly 130 miles of larger arterial and collector roads. It’s estimated that about $16 million is needed each year to maintain “adequate roadway condition,” but the city is short at least $5 million for local streets.
Without a dedicated fund, the city has dipped into its reserves, Lamb told council members at a public hearing last week. He pointed out that transportation has been identified as one of the city’s two main priorities.
Implementing surface treatments on local streets was also a priority among 1,018 respondents to a 2021 community survey, city Engineering Director Adam Jackson said at the time.