Chamber Endorses Mayor’s Roads Repair Package

This fall is going to be a busy election season in our part of the world. Voters will get to decide on the minimum wage increase issue ($15, $12, or none), whether to repeal the Pierce County General Services Building, another run at charter changes relating to form of government for Tacoma, and two propositions that would raise funds to repair Tacoma's failing streets.

If you remember, those last two propositions come out of a proposal from Mayor Strickland that would increase property tax rates, utility tax rates, and the sales tax to pay for repairs to Tacoma's residential and arterial streets over the next 10 years.

Tacoma Proposition 3 proposes an increase in the property tax rates of $0.20 per $1,000 of assessed value as well as a 1.5% earnings tax on the utilities. Transportation Benefit District Proposition A proposes a 1/10 of 1% sales tax increase. Together the increases would be expected to bring in $175 million in new revenue to be directed to fill potholes, patch, repair, and repave streets. Those funds, combined with an additional $30 million from the City's General Fund, $100 million from the existing Transportation Benefit District sources (including the $20 car tab fee), and expected grant matching funds, should all add up to $425 million for Tacoma's roads over the next decade... if the voters give it the okay.

The Tacoma Pierce County Chamber has announced its support of the full package proposed by the mayor, citing the need for road repairs, and noting that the proposal spreads the cost of roads throughout the community, and that it sunsets in 10 years. That said, the Chamber's support does come with a bit of a caveat.

While the Chamber supports these proposals to improve streets throughout Tacoma, we will continue to encourage the City to look for additional efficiencies in general operations.  With an annual general fund budget of $200M, saving just 1% would allow an additional $20M to be spent on roads over 10-years.  To this end, we hope that this City will continue to focus on job creation in the private sector by hiring private contractors to complete the work rather than increasing internal staff.

Read the Chamber's announcement on the issue here. Find links to the propsitions and supporting materials on the Pierce County Auditor's page.

With Labor Day in our rear view mirrors, it must be time to start thinking about how we plan to vote in November... What are your thoughts?

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