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Lack of street maintenance is creating a hurdle for the Tacoma housing market. Potholes and other street problems are causing buyers to pass on otherwise perfect fits.

They make it a challenge. It s just one more thing they have to observe, overcome and evaluate whether or not they chose to purchase a home or not, said Maggie Schauble, a realtor.

A proposed 2 percent Utility Tax Increase on November s ballot could help address the problem.

We re an old city, we re a built out city and so we ve got a lot of streets that are old and in need of significant repair and maintenance, said Kurtis Kingsolver, Tacoma Public Works Director.

Poor roads have caused another realtor in Schauble s company to miss out on major sales. Due to the condition of the street in front of the homes, the bank wouldn t close on the deal.

If voters pass the increase, the average customer will pay $2 more on their utility bill each month, generating $10-11 million. The money will go towards projects like repaving streets, building sidewalks and fixing potholes.

It s a very important initiative, said Schauble.

The money would double the Public Works Department s current budget and restore jobs. A third of its workforce was slashed last year because of budget cuts.

Schauble has seen potential buyers but so far, received no offers on a 3 bedroom home in the Proctor neighborhood. The realtor is hopeful improved streets will peak interest.

I think it will make it easier, I really do, she said.

Sue Chavez says poor roads throw off the alignment for cars in the area.

It s such a beautiful neighborhood, to have that (potholes) to deal with isn t good, she said.

She s hopeful more money to maintain them will transform the streets from problem to selling point.

That s what we need, we need to get cleaned up, said Chavez.

City leaders call the proposed increase a progressive way to raise revenue that doesn t hurt the poor as much as a property or sales tax. A program offers elderly and low income households 30 percent off their utility bills.

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