SEQUIM — The Sequim City Council will ask city voters in November to renew a two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax to support the Transportation Benefit District for another 10 years.
Council members unanimously approved two resolutions Monday night at their regular meeting to put the tax renewal before voters on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, and to create two committees to write pro and con statements for the voters’ pamphlet.
Voters originally approved the 10-year tax in November 2009 after it failed narrowly — 50.91 percent to 49.09 percent — in its first attempt in November 2008. The tax helps cover costs of transportation improvement projects, such as rehabilitating roads, building new sidewalks and improving street lighting.
City Clerk Karen Kuznek-Reese said the city had until Aug. 7 to pass the resolutions.
City Manager Charlie Bush said even though the Transportation Benefit District’s current 10-year span doesn’t expire until April 2020, to avoid a break in collections, city staff wants to get approval well in advance of the end date. He said the November 2018 general election was chosen because it’s anticipated to have a large voter turnout and it’s cheaper to participate than in a special election.
If voters agree to renew the tax at the same rate, it’ll continue the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax in April 2020 for 10 years.
Kuznek-Reese said early estimates show the cost to the city to place the proposal on the ballot will be about $4,000. She said if the tax renewal fails, funds for transportation projects would need to come from general funds, Real Estate Excise Tax dollars and/or grants.
City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross previously said if the renewal were to fail this year, the city could try again in 2019 until the deadline expires.
In its first year collecting taxes, the Transportation Benefit District collected $314,000 in 2010 and grew to collect more than $700,000 in 2017, which paid $561,000 toward pavement preservation and $100,000 to crack sealing last year. One of its contributions this year includes funding repairs to curbs and sidewalks along North Blake Avenue by Carrie Blake Community Park.
Since 2010, funds paid for dozens of projects including overlaying River Road, reconstructing pavement on McCurdy Road, North Seventh Avenue and West Prairie Street.
City staff said they estimate about two-thirds of the district’s revenue comes from residents living outside of city limits.
City staff members said they seek at least three people for each pros and cons committee to write and agree upon statements for the voters’ pamphlet.
For more information on the Transportation Benefit District and/or to apply to a committee call 360-683-4908 or visit the Sequim Civic Center at 152 W. Cedar St.
City staff members plan to host information sessions before the general election, they said.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].