August 6, 2011 in Washington Voices

Millwood Update: Council OKs new real estate sales tax

Valerie Putnam, Vrputnam@Yahoo.Com
 
Coming up

The next City Council meeting will be Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. in Millwood City Hall, 9103 E. Frederick Ave. For more information, call (509) 924-0960.

The Millwood City Council voted Monday night to tap into a new revenue source.

The council unanimously approved imposing a real estate excise tax on all property sales to fund capital improvement projects, as well as maintenance and operations needs. Millwood is the only jurisdiction in the state that hasn’t previously imposed the tax.

The tax amounts to one-half of one percent of the selling price on all property, paid by the seller. The collected funds will go into a designated capital improvement fund.

City Planner Tom Richardson outlined a number of proposed capital improvements scheduled over the next six years, totaling more than $700,000.

“Having a list of projects like this without a reasonable source of funding, we’re kidding ourselves,” Richardson said. “There is never a good time to raise a tax but there definitely is a need for it.”

Richardson’s project list includes items such as $30,000 to rehabilitate/replace the City Pool, $112,000 to repave Buckeye and Bridgeport avenues, an estimated $30,000 to purchase a new boiler for City Hall, and a new lawn mower at $12,000.

“This isn’t going to balance the budget,” City Treasurer Debbie Matkin said. “But every little bit helps.”

City Attorney Brian Werst stated that Washington state law recently changed, giving jurisdictions more flexibility on using the funds. The amended law allows municipalities the ability to use the funds for maintenance and operation for capital projects until 2016.

The council also approved adopting fees for utility services to “offset rate increases and recoup operating costs,” as stated on the resolution.

“These are fees that every other utility are charging,” Matkin said. “You have to look at it like these are special circumstances above and beyond the operation of the water system.”

Service and connection fees will be imposed for services such as a permit fee of $100, which includes inspection, account service fee of $25, service calls at $85 per hour plus parts, and after-hours $185 per hour plus parts.

Millwood will also impose a disconnection and reconnection fee of $25, along with a system connection fee for $1,000 plus parts.

In other city news, Matt Gillis, of Welch Comer and Associates, presented a task order for widening Laura Road and Grace Avenue.

In June, Gillis presented a proposal for a master agreement to provide ongoing general engineering services. The agreement outlines contractual terms between the city and Welch, with each project executed through task orders.

Gillis’ scope of work widens approximately 620 feet of Laura Road from Grace to Frederick, and 330 feet of Grace Avenue from Bessie to Laura. The design provides for on-street parking by adding 6 feet to the width of the street, making the streets 24 feet wide.

The council unanimously approved the task order, giving Gillis the green light to proceed with design, which he plans on presenting to the council next month.

Once design is approved, the project will go out to bid. Gillis estimates construction beginning in October.

The council also approved Washington Cities Insurance Authority as the city’s new insurance provider. Coverage will begin on September 1.

Washington Cities is a public entity risk pool that will provide the city comprehensive property and liability insurance coverage.

Council chose it over continuing with the current provider, Cities Insurance Association of Washington.

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