Car tab fees could be in PT’s future

Posted 1/21/21

Funding for transportation infrastructure projects in Port Townsend could receive a boost if the city decides to  impose a car tab fee for city residents.

At a recent meeting of the Port …

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Car tab fees could be in PT’s future

Posted

Funding for transportation infrastructure projects in Port Townsend could receive a boost if the city decides to  impose a car tab fee for city residents.

At a recent meeting of the Port Townsend Transportation Committee, Public Works Director Steve King said the city could look to create a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) to help pay for its lengthy list of transportation improvement projects.

Commonly referred to as a “car tab” fee program, the Transportation Benefit District allows cities to impose car license fees of up to $20 at first.

The fee can be raised to $40 after the initial fee has been in place for two years. The maximum allowable licensing fee is $100, but all fees over $50 would require a public vote with a simple majority.

“The funds can only be used for transportation purposes, they’re very specific,” King said. “The use of funds must be applied to a priority project list and that project list must be kept up to date.”

“TBDs can be formed to sunset if you wish, after a project list is complete, or the project list can continually be updated and continue on,” King added. “It’s hard to imagine that projects will ever go away; we seem to have a massive backlog of projects.”

King explained that TBDs can be administered by multiple agencies by creating a board.

“A good example of how these funds could be used would be augmentation of WSDOT investments,” King said. “Grant matching for capital projects; they’re a great funding source for leveraging capital projects like the city’s match for Discovery Road for example — which we are currently borrowing money for.”

A portion of the Discovery Road project — which will reconstruct the roadway and add curbs, enhanced crosswalks, stormwater drainage and treatment, lighting, and intersection improvements between Rainier Street and McClellan Street — was recently selected for grant funding from the state Transportation Improvement Board. The project was awarded more than $2.6 million through the board’s Urban Arterial Program. The total cost has been estimated at more than $5.2 million and would require a local match of
49.6 percent from the city, to the tune of about
$2.5 million.

City officials estimate that based upon 9,417 vehicles being driven by residents within city limits a potential transportation district could bring in:

$186,000 per year from a $20 license fee;

$372,000 per year from a $40 license fee;

$466,000 per year from a $50 license fee; and

$932,000 per year from the maximum allowable $100 license fee.

Subject to voter approval, the city of Port Townsend could also propose a
0.2 percent sales tax to benefit transportation projects in town. That would bring in an estimated $550,000 annually.

The next virtual meeting of the Council Transportation Committee will be held at
3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20.

For more information, visit cityofpt.us/citycouncil/page/agendasminutesvideos.   

Comments

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Robert Gray

There are 9,417 vehicles driven by residents that could pay this fee. However, it is estimated that 1,000,000 visitors come to Port Townsend each year and most are driving cars or large recreation vehicles. To require residents to pay for street repairs while most of the damage is caused by out-of-town drivers is very unfair. If the city enforced paid parking for visitors it would probably generate much more revenue than car tabs would.

Friday, January 22
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Once again, low-income, homeless, disabled and elderly people will be kicked in the teeth for going through the great effort and expense to own and maintain a vehicle. This city has gone insane. Furthermore, the people who live and work downtown will have to pay these fees, and STILL have nowhere to park because the city refuses to give presedence to people who pay rent and work at the hotels, restaurants, and as caretakers for the elderly and disabled people who live downtown. If the wealthy of this state would simply do their due diligence of paying their taxes like everyone else does, we wouldn't even have these problems. Stop making the poor, elderly and disabled shoulder the financial burden for the likes of Boeing and Bezos.

Sunday, January 24