Lacey Council talks new taxes

March 5th, 2010 by Ken

It was taxes, new taxes, new local taxes, that occupied the time of the Lacey City Council Thursday during its first work session under the new rules.

Councilmembers heard from Thera Black, head planner for Thurston Regional Planning Council on the creation of a Public Transportation Benefit District  (TBD) and from their Intercity Transit representative Mary Dean on a sales tax increase for the local transit agency.

Black told the council, absent Jason Hearn who was mourning the death of his mother-in-law, that Thurston County is looking at creating a TBD and wants to have the local jurisdictions as part of the new taxing agency.

Under the terms of a TBD, a fee of $20 can be added to all new car tab renewal fees without a vote of the people and can be used for transportation projects.  

The council decided to explore the issue further and determine if it is in the city’s best interests to do a regional body with the county or to go it alone and use the $20 fee for city transportation needs.

From the tone of the discussion, it seemed as if the council would approve a $20 car tab fee without a vote of the people, but not whether it would be a go it a lone effort or as part of a regional approach.

But the issue of a sales tax increase to fund Intercity Transit was more diffused.  Dean wanted to know if the council wanted a .2 or a .3 percent increase in the sales tax to fund the transit system.   The issue would go to the voters this year.   But two members of the council , Mayor Tom Nelson and Councilmember Ron Lawson, didn’t want any tax increase.

“Right now, with the economic conditions, I can’t support any tax increase,” Nelson told Dean.   “I feel the same way,” said Lawson.

Deputy Mayor Virgil Clarkson gave an impassioned and long defense of transit while Councilmember Cynthia Pratt said she was also a firm supporter of transit. 

Councilmember Andy Ryder was reluctant to make a decision and said it should be left up to the public to make that determination.

Dean was left with no firm decision.

But it was obvious that Intercity Transit will have a difficult time passing any tax increase this year.

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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