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Published on Friday, March 20, 2015

Transportation revenue bills get public hearing in the House

The Senate transportation revenue package (ESSB 5987 and ESSB 5988) will be heard in the House Transportation Committee on Thursday, March 26, at 3:30 pm. Here are links to a balance sheet and project list associated with these bills. This is an exciting next step in the long process of adopting a comprehensive transportation revenue package.

AWC and individual cities will be testifying in support of continuing to move these bills but will highlight a few pieces that we would like to see improved:

  • Direct Distribution. The direct distribution over 16 years is $375 million for cities AND counties, with 63 percent for counties and 37 percent to cities. With the intense transportation needs of cities and the population growth in incorporated areas, we would like to see an increase in direct distribution and a more even split between cities and counties. You can get a rough estimate of how much additional revenue that your city or town would receive each year under the Senate proposal by multiplying your current population by $1.95.
  • Transportation Improvement Board (TIB). TIB did not receive any new funds, and the package included only a partial dedication of fee revenues that have been funding TIB programs since 2012. We would like to see the current TIB funding continued and an increase for projects and other emerging needs, such as fish passage barrier removal.
  • Transportation Benefit Districts (TBD). ESSB 5987 does increase councilmanic authority for motor vehicle fees from $20 to $40, after the $20 fee has been in place for 2 years. TBDs have become important transportation funding tools for cities, so we would like to see this authority increased to $50 and include the administrative efficiencies in Rep. Jake Fey’s (D-Tacoma) HB 1757.
  • Fish Passage Barrier Removal. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife has identified well over a thousand city-owned fish passage barriers (usually culverts). This is an emerging issue that requires a long-term solution that cities will not be able to address with current transportation resources. We are seeking funds to begin to address this issue as well as some innovative uses of existing spending.
  • Baldrige Assessment. Certain cities with populations over 75,000 who got a project in the package must complete a city-wide Baldrige assessment every two years. We will raise concerns about the cost of this requirement.

The reform bills associated with this package will not be heard next Thursday, but AWC has also raised concerns about the impacts to locals in the sales tax exemption in ESSB 5990. (See article from last week).

Categories: Transportation