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City, Valley might back vehicle tax, Mielke says

Wed., Sept. 8, 2010

Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke said Tuesday that Spokane and Spokane Valley city officials have indicated they may seek a countywide vehicle tax.

A countywide “transportation benefit district” requires the cooperation of the county and 60 percent of the cities in the county – including cities that control 75 percent of the county’s incorporated population.

Mielke said he anticipates Spokane and Spokane Valley may make formal requests within a month. He said some smaller cities, including Rockford and Waverly, also have expressed interest but want a guarantee they would receive at least $50,000 a year for local projects.

State law allows transportation benefit districts to levy a variety of taxes, but local interest has focused on a vehicle registration charge. Up to $20 per vehicle may be collected without voter approval, and voters may authorize up to $100.

Mielke said all the city officials he has talked to have agreed that no tax should be levied without voter approval.

Commissioner Mark Richard expressed concern that such a vote would harm a bond measure to build a new jail if the two coincided, but Mielke said city officials seem willing to work around the jail ballot.

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