Oak Harbor council puts street repair tax on ballot

It’s Oak Harbor voters who will decide whether to raise the sales tax rate to fund street repairs and maintenance.

After some initial hand wringing, members of the Oak Harbor City Council voted unanimously at a meeting Wednesday to place a measure on the November ballot that would fund street work with a two-tenths of 1 percent increase in sales tax, which will raise an estimated $900,000 a year.

The council created a transportation benefit district last year. Under state law, the district has several options for funding, but council members felt the sales tax increase would be fairest since the cost would be partly borne by visitors.

Councilwoman Beth Munns raised concerns about the timing of the measure since the city will only have a few months to educate people about what it’s all about. She questioned whether to place it on the ballot at a later date.

“I want to win,” she said. “This is so important, and we’ve put it off forever and ever and ever.”

City staff reminded the council that public resources can’t be used to promote a ballot measure, but the city can disseminate the facts.

In the past, Mayor Bob Severns and Councilman Rick Almberg also worried about the timing. Almberg, who previously voted against the measure, was absent.

The city’s funding for street repair and maintenance decreased drastically over the years as the increase in city revenues failed to match inflation and money was directed to other priorities, officials said. As a result, many roads in the city are in dire need of repair.

Several council members said it was time to stop “kicking the can down the road.” Councilman Bill Larsen said failure to act now would be a failure of leadership.

Councilman Joel Servatius pointed out that the sales tax increase would only amount to an extra $1 for someone buying a $500 washing machine.

If the measure passes, the funds will be used to fix projects on specific roads that have already been listed by city staff. After the list is complete, the money will be directed to regular rounds of maintenance.

More in News

Ex-county inmate sues over jail fall

An inmate at Clallam Bay Corrections Center is suing Island County over… Continue reading

Nurse to challenge Smith for seat in House

A longtime nurse and Whidbey resident is challenging incumbent Rep. Norma Smith,… Continue reading

Photo provided
                                The Haller House is one of the historic properties that received a portion of the $1 million Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve preservation grant.
$1 million in state historic preservation grants awarded in Ebey’s Reserve

A $1-million grant from the state will go a long ways toward… Continue reading

Hospital searched for bombs after threat

The Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad searched WhidbeyHealth Medical Center in Coupeville… Continue reading

Wanted man sentenced for assault, resisting arrest

A Clinton man who assaulted a woman and teenage girl and wrestled… Continue reading

MLK event emphasizes dreams, unity

While Pastor Fannie Dean thinks it’s important to remember and acknowledge the… Continue reading

Uber returns to the road in Oak Harbor

After an absence of more than three months, Uber is back in… Continue reading

Man repeatedly violated court order, police say

A 37-year-old Clinton man is being held in jail on $35,000 bail… Continue reading

Driver who allegedly knocked out power, cell service charged

An Anacortes man is accused of fleeing from the scene of a… Continue reading

Most Read