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Projects included on the city’s adopted transportation improvement plan are eligible for funding.
A City may seek voter approval of a $2 sales tax under Chapter 36.73 RCW or implement up to a $20 per vehicle fee with City Council approval. A sales tax is equitably shared by both residents and non-residents that use Stanwood streets and would raise $200,000 annually. A car tab fee is only paid by Stanwood residents and would raise an estimated $98,000 annually.
Only Stanwood residents may vote to increase taxes within the city limits. The city council is asking residents to approve the $2 sales tax on the February 12, 2013 ballot. With voter approval of the $2 sales tax, the City can begin to replace the transportation funding that has been lost over the years and be better able to preserve, maintain or expand the City’s transportation infrastructure into the future.
In Stanwood’s case, the primary on-going source of revenue for the Street Fund has been the gas tax (MVET). Since 2008 the gas tax has been insufficient to meet budgeted expenditures for street improvements. Transfers to the Street Fund divert money from other sources.
The city has supplemented the gas tax with transfers from the general fund and Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) Revenues. Previously, the city reserved REET funds for capital projects such as park improvements. Without the TBD, planned projects such as flood control measures, sidewalk improvements and street maintenance may be delayed.
Street maintenance is second only to public safety on the list of vital services the city provides to Stanwood residents, business owners and visitors. Street maintenance is also an important part of the city’s economic development efforts. The city’s streets are often the first impression visitors, potential business owners and customers have when they enter Stanwood. Other economic incentives may not matter if Stanwood’s streets are not well maintained and inviting. In this case "curb appeal" is not just a figure of speech. A transportation benefit district would provide funding to ensure Stanwood streets, sidewalks and trails do not deteriorate and require a more expensive fix in the future.
In November 2012, after conducting a public hearing, the Stanwood City Council approved Ordinance 1328 that formed the Stanwood Transportation Benefit District and adopted a new chapter to the Stanwood Municipal Code, entitled "Transportation Benefit District". The ordinance specifies that the boundaries for the TBD be coextensive with the City limits. Funds used to operate the District must make transportation improvements that are consistent with existing regional, state, and local transportation plans and necessitated by existing and reasonably foreseeable congestion levels as provided in Chapter 36.73 RCW.
The council further determined that it is in the public interest to provide for transportation improvements that specifically focus on reducing the risk of transportation facility failure and improving safety, decreasing travel time, increasing daily and peak period trip capacity, improving modal connectivity, and preserving and maintaining optimal performance of transportation infrastructure. The governing board of the TBD shall be the Stanwood City Council serving in an ex-officio and independent capacity as per RCW 36.73.020.
In December 2012, the Stanwood TBD Board approved the Rules and Procedures of the Stanwood Transportation Benefit District outlining the conditions by which the TBD is organized and defining its rights and privileges.