Residents renew City of Sequim’s transportation tax

Transportation projects in the City of Sequim will continue on uninterrupted with support of a special tax through 2029.

Sequim residents voted to renew the 10-year Transportation Benefit District, TBD, in the Nov. 6 general election with 2,939 yes votes (77.9 percent) to just 835 votes (22.1 percent) against the tax.

The two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax requires 50-percent of voters plus one vote in approval to pass.

Sequim Public Works Director David Garlington said budgeting in 2019 remains unaffected because the first 10 years of the TBD technically doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2019.

“It’s status quo,” he said. “With it passing, we just keep moving forward and with a better economy, we’ll have more funds to spend on our transportation system.”

Now the tax will continue at the same rate through Dec. 31, 2029 without a break in collection.

Next year’s transportation projects are too be determined, Garlington said, and are determined early in the year to gauge the level of need.

Leading up to the vote, Garlington said he hadn’t heard of any resistance to continuing the tax and no one signed on to write a negative comment for the Clallam County Voter’s Guide against it.

City councilors opted to send the TBD to voters earlier because more people would turnout for the General Election and it would cost less to put on the ballot.

Residents first approved the TBD in Nov. 2009, which has brought in more than $5 million for Transportation Improvement Projects since 2010, such as building sidewalks and improving street lighting.

Garlington said the TBD brings in about one-third of the city’s annual funding for street projects and that many project such as street renovations wouldn’t happen and would need to come from general funds.

On its first attempt on the ballot in Nov. 2008, residents opposed the tax narrowly with 50.91 percent (1,701) opposed. However, it approved the next year by 58.15 percent (1,373 votes) in favor.

Collected taxes for the fund only go to transportation projects with city staff estimating about two-thirds of monies coming from non-city residents.

City staff said the TBD grew from $314,000 in 2010 collected to just over $700,000 last year.

Street renovations make up the largest portion of the TBD’s funding, Garlington said, along with creating pedestrian facilities, such as new sidewalks and ramps along Blake Avenue near Carrie Blake Community Park.

The TBD paid $561,000 for pavement preservation and $100,000 for crack sealing. It’s also paid for several projects such as overlay projects along River Road.

Clallam County Election officials last tabulated votes on Nov. 9 with the next count coming after press deadline on Nov. 13. All six of the City of Sequim’s precincts voted largely in favor of the proposition.

For more information about the Transportation Benefit District, call 360-683-4908 or visit the Sequim Civic Center at 152 W. Cedar St.

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