This short stretch of North Brown Road from Fir Street to Willow Street, seen in mid-2015, is one of many roadways repaired through funds created by the City of Sequim’s Transportation Benefit District, which charges two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax on purchases specifically for transportation improvement projects. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

This short stretch of North Brown Road from Fir Street to Willow Street, seen in mid-2015, is one of many roadways repaired through funds created by the City of Sequim’s Transportation Benefit District, which charges two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax on purchases specifically for transportation improvement projects. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim to ask voters to renew 10-year Transportation Benefit District

After generating more than $4 million in revenue for street projects in the City of Sequim since 2010, City of Sequim councilors will soon consider putting the Transportation Benefit District before voters again this November.

Voters approved the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax in November 2009 (58.15 percent, or 1,373 yes votes, to 41.85 percent, 988) that helps cover costs of Transportation Improvement Projects such as rehabilitating roads, building new sidewalks and improving street lighting.

City councilors gave the OK without an official vote on Jan. 22 for city staff to investigate costs and more information for putting it on the 2018 General Election ballot set for Nov. 6.

Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said city staff has until this summer to make a decision regarding the General Election but they’ll likely talk to city councilors before that.

The Transportation Benefit District’s tax expires Dec. 31, 2019, and if renewed it would run through Dec. 31, 2029.

When first attempting to pass the new tax, Sequim voters narrowly defeated it in November 2008 with 50.91 percent (1,701) opposed versus 49.09 percent (1,640) for the tax.

Sequim Public Works Director David Garlington said they have until late 2019 to renew the 10-year tax but wanted to suggest bringing it to voters sooner.

He said this November election would see more people turnout and cost $2,000 versus nearly $20,000 for a special election.

City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said if the renewal were to fail this year, the city could try again in 2019 until the deadline expires.

City Councilor Bob Lake said he’s “a proponent of the sooner, the better.”

Fellow councilor Ted Miller said with the renewal the city has an advantage that the tax will remain at the same level.

Garlington said they also have multiple projects to show off its impact too.

“At that time, it was just a thought,” Garlington said. “Now it’s a reality.”

Growing projects list

The Transportation Benefit District’s sales tax has increased significantly from nearly $314,000 in 2010, its first collection year, to top the $600,000 mark for the first time in 2015, and to more than $700,000 last year.

City staff estimate about two-thirds of the district’s revenue comes from residents living outside of city limits.

From 2011-2017, the district also provided the highest average of funding for city street projects, at about 29 percent annually, Garlington said.

Last year, district taxes paid $561,000 toward pavement preservation, $100,000 to crack sealing and $10,500 to improving the Blake Avenue sidewalk.

In its history, funds have paid for dozens of projects including overlaying River Road, reconstructing pavement on McCurdy Road, North Seventh Avenue and West Prairie Street.

Garlington said converting two streetlights on Sequim Avenue and on North Fifth Avenue to LED lights (at a cost of about $71,000) has reduced electricity usage by about 44 percent from 2013-2017.

As part of the Transportation Improvement Plan for this year, the district tax helps offset costs for projects such as $537,000 for pavement rehabilitation and $157,000 for improving Brackett Road to Hendrickson Road on North Ninth Avenue.

Mayor Dennis Smith said with the number projects finished, “people would be more receptive to it now. I don’t think they’ll turn it down.”

Garlington said city staff will host information sessions leading up to any potential vote.

For more information, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4908.

One of the worst rated roadways in the City of Sequim, Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth Avenues, was repaired last summer with funds through the Transportation Benefit District. Sequim City Councilors will consider sending the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax this November to voters to renew for another 10 years. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

One of the worst rated roadways in the City of Sequim, Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth Avenues, was repaired last summer with funds through the Transportation Benefit District. Sequim City Councilors will consider sending the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax this November to voters to renew for another 10 years. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

One of the worst rated roadways in the City of Sequim, Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth Avenues, was repaired last summer with funds through the Transportation Benefit District. Sequim City Councilors will consider sending the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax this November to voters to renew for another 10 years. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

One of the worst rated roadways in the City of Sequim, Hemlock Street between South Fourth and Fifth Avenues, was repaired last summer with funds through the Transportation Benefit District. Sequim City Councilors will consider sending the two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax this November to voters to renew for another 10 years. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

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