Oak Harbor considers creating a taxing district for roads

Oak Harbor city officials are considering creating a quasi-judicial corporation with an independent taxing authority to raise money for road work.

At a council workshop Wednesday, Senior Planner Dennis Lefevre presented the idea of starting a transportation benefit district to create a stable funding source for city transportation projects. Under state law, the council members would be the governing body of the district, even though it would be a separate legal entity.

Lefevre explained that the transportation benefit district has five options for raising money.

The most commonly used method is through an increase in the vehicle license fee, Lefevre said. It may be increased by $20 or up to $40 after two years. With nearly 16,000 registered vehicles in the city, it would raise about $315,000 in a year, he said.

Anacortes and Sedro-Woolley have transportation benefit districts funded by license fees.

Another commonly employed option is an increase in the sales and use tax of an amount not to exceed two-tenths of 1 percent. This option would require voter approval. If passed, the tax would raise about $911,000 a year in Oak Harbor and would be in effect for 10 years.

Bellingham, Mount Vernon and Marysville have districts funded with the sales and use tax.

Other options are a commercial and industrial building fee, an ad valorem tax and vehicle tolls on roads.

Asked which method would be fairest, Lefevre pointed to the sales tax.

“Sales and use tax is probably the most equitable for use in our system,” he said.

Lefevre said the city’s need for road funds is clear. Unlike most grants, funds from a transportation benefit district can be used for road maintenance and repair, which the city has historically had trouble funding. The city is currently working with a consultant to look at the paving needs and create a prioritized plan of attack.

Road work would have to be included in the city’s six-year transportation plan to be eligible for transportation benefit district funds, Lefevre said.

Councilman Joel Servatius said residents in the city care about the condition of roads.

“Streets are at the top of the want list, the complaint list,” he said.

The council members present at the workshop agreed that a proposed ordinance establishing a transportation benefit district should be brought forward for further consideration. The council would have to hold a public hearing on the matter before it could be adopted.

More in News

Man accused of running from law enforcement after car chase

A Clinton man who stopped his car in the middle of the… Continue reading

Popular Camp Casey pool is closed this summer

The swimming pool at the Camp Casey Conference Center won’t be open… Continue reading

Flight training through Sunday at OLF Coupeville

There are carrier-based flight training operations scheduled to occur at the Naval… Continue reading

Oak Harbor Police Department unveils new patch design

The Oak Harbor Police Department is changing the designs on its badges… Continue reading

Miller completes Air Force basic training

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Noah Miller graduated from basic military… Continue reading

Personal objection will no longer exempt children from school vaccinations

By Emma Epperly WNPA Olympia News Bureau The Washington House of Representatives… Continue reading

Holland Happening 50th celebration starts Thursday

Parade, carnival and food will fill the weekend

Attention shoppers: Walmart land is for sale, but store is here to stay

The land underneath the Walmart in Oak Harbor is for sale, but… Continue reading

WhidbeyHealth’s Telles presents CEO to-do list to board

Making budget presentations “zing” instead of sag is one of many admirable… Continue reading

Most Read