Tacoma Prop. 1 defeated, but fight to fund street repairs isn't over

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 6, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 6:09 PM

While Tacoma’s Proposition 1 was defeated by voters, city officials say the fight to find funding for $800 million in needed street improvements is not over.

The 2 percent Utility tax would have cost about $4.70 per household each month, generating up to $11 million a year.

According to the support group “Fix Tacoma Streets,” the money would have helped repave 510 neighborhoods citywide, permanently fix more than 3,600 potholes each year and install 46 safety crosswalks and flash beacons near schools.

“I was disappointed,” said Kurtis Kingsolver, City Public Works Director.

The proposition would have doubled the city’s street improvement efforts.

“We’ll have to regroup and see what we’ll have to do next,” said Kingsolver.

In September, an ordinance to earmark utility company earnings tax revenues above 6 percent for any of utilities levied at the 8 percent rate into a new fund starting January. The new fund will solely handle revenue collections and expenditures related to street improvements. The ordinance increases the total budget for repairs by almost 40 percent.

“We’ll probably go to the legislature and see if we can get a street maintenance utility but there’s not a lot options at our local level,” said Kingsolver.

Pierce County receives $60 million a year after being awarded a similar utility.

“Fight, fight, fight, get it fixed,” said Ashylee Tillman, a resident.

Tillman says the roads around her home near Tacoma Mall are in shambles.

“A war zone, it is rough to drive to walk, our kids don’t play outside,” she said.

Courtesy Auto Service & Tire has noticed the problem too.

“It’s bad for roads but good for business but I’d rather have a happy customer that’s buying tires and stuff because they’re worn out not because they hit a pot hole,” said Doug Engelhardt, Service Manager.

Repair costs can cost hundreds of dollars. One customer in particular has paid almost $2,000 related to potholes. In six months, sales for the “Road Hazard Insurance” it offers has increased 25 percent.

“When we get the heavier rains and stuff we get a lot more,” said Engelhardt.

A $20 car tab fee raises about $2 million per year for city street improvements.
 

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