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Posts tagged: Transportation Benefit District

Sidewalk money safe with new Spokane City Council

Spokane’s only tax revenue geared specifically for sidewalks won’t be diverted for street paving by the City Council’s new membership.

The council last year narrowly approved a $20-per vehicle tab tax and mandated that 10 percent be spent on sidewalks while the rest be spent on streets.

A majority of members on the more conservative City Council elected in November already said they didn’t support repealing the tax. On Tuesday, it became clear that the sidewalk set-aside is safe, too.

The council voted unanimously to approve two sidewalk construction projects for this year using tab fee revenue. A third sidewalk project was approved on a 6-0 vote with Councilman Mike Allen abstaining because he lives across the street from where the sidewalk will be installed on 29th Avenue.

The projects were recommended by the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, who voted against setting aside money for sidewalks and the creation of the tab tax last year, said while sidewalks aren’t her first transportation priority, she recognizes that the city has a problem with large sections of missing sidewalks.

“I lost that vote,” she said. “It’s time to move on. I want to help make as good decisions as possible with these dollars.”

Help Spokane spend money on streets and sidewalks

Spokane leaders are seeking applications for a new board to oversee the use of the city’s new $20 vehicle tab tax.

The Citizens Transportation Advisory Board will have seven members. It was modeled after the Citizens Street Advisory Committee, which oversees projects paid for by the city’s 2004 street bond.

The board will include one member each from the Citizens Street Advisory Committee, the Pedestrian, Traffic and Transportation Committee of the Community Assembly, and the Bicycle Advisory Board. They will be appointed for one year.

The remaining four new members will be appointed for three years.

Applications are due on Monday and are available here. The forms also available at the City Council office at Spokane City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Date set for new car tab fee

Owners of cars registered in Spokane will start paying an additional $20 to license their cars starting Sept. 1 to pay for the city’s new vehicle tax.

The state Department of Licensing finalized the date earlier this month.

The Spokane City Council approved the tab fee on Feb. 14. State law says tab fees become effective six months after approval. Department of Licensing spokesman Brad Benfield said the state prefers to start collections at the beginning of a month.

The council created a Transportation Benefit District last year. That decision gave the city the ability to approve tab taxes up to $20 without voter approval.

City officials expect to collect about $2.6 million in the first full year of collections. Most of the money will be used for street maintenance. Ten percent was earmarked for sidewalks.

In Spokane, the total required fees for most passenger cars, including the tax, will increase to $63.75. Vehicles weighing from 4,001 to 6,000 pounds will pay $73.75, and vehicles from 6,001 pounds to 8,000 pounds will pay $83.75.

Tax for streets overshadows talk of task force

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A) Jon Snyder: “You can’t just say, ‘We need the streets fixed! We need the streets fixed!’ and then vote against every single remedy that we have at our disposal”
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B) Steve Corker: “If the No. 1 priority of the city was public safety, would we have the courage to vote in a B&O (tax) to ensure that was funded?”
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C) Bob Apple: “I hope the voters take a negative act towards those who think that they don’t have a right to an input”
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D) Joe Shogan: “A B&O tax in this town has got about as much chance as an ice cube in hell”

Mayor Mary Verner told the Spokane City Council on Tuesday that she will reconvene a committee that will help form policy on paving streets and select opportunities to focus “complete streets” efforts.

For the most part, the city's 2004 street bond has been used only to reconstruct streets from curb-to-curb, a policy that has been challenged by some members of City Council who believe it should also be used to improve sidewalks and make other upgrades. Verner has stood by the curb-to-curb use of the street bond, but has worked to supplement that money with grants and other funds to add amenities on certain projects.

Talk in Tuesday's meeting often turned to funding, specifically on the proposed tab tax that will be considered by the Spokane City Council next month. As you can hear in the above clips, passion among the council members about streets is high.

Listen to Shogan’s sharp words for his City Council colleagues

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Shogan defends tab tax

Council President Joe Shogan took the lead this year on the plan to create a vehicle tab tax while others on Spokane City Council examined other ideas — including a parking lot tax. Shogan’s plan is pretty much the only tax left that might be used to help balance the 2011 budget. But it’s facing growing opposition on the council.

Three council members were especially angered by the surprise vote to move $1.5 million of street money to the city’s rainy-day fund where it could be used to help fund the fire and police budgets. That proposal wasn’t publicly vetted until Monday, just before the money was shifted in a 4-3 vote. In the audio clip, Rush is explaining that that vote makes it highly unlikely that he would support a tab tax for the 2011 budget. That, along with arguments from Corker in favor of moving a tab tax vote to January, prompted Shogan’s harsh response.

Spokane takes step closer to vehicle tab tax

Spokane City Council members on Monday decided to give themselves new taxing authority.

The council voted 5-2 to create a “Transportation Benefit District.” The decision means the council will have the ability to enact a vehicle tab tax up to $20. Higher tab taxes would require public votes.

The decision did not enact any tax. Council members said they likely will hold a hearing on a proposed fee as early as November.

While the money raised would have to be spent on street and transportation projects, the law allows the city to divert other revenue currently spent on streets.

Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin voted against the proposal. Council members said they likely will dissolve the district if the county forms a regional district at a later date. Apple said any fee should go on a ballot.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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