Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spokane City Will Ask Voters for Transit Tax if STA Doesn't

Spokane's city council last night voted to allow the city to use sales taxes and vehicle licensing fees to fund public transportation in addition to streets and pedestrian infrastructure. And there plan is to put the Central City Line on the November ballot if STA doesn't.

According to the Spokesman-Review, the move was spurred by the council’s support for the Central City Line that would connect Browne’s Addition to the University District and Spokane Community College. STA’s board hasn't decided on whether it will ask voters for a tax to support it. Last month, it postponed a decision to put a measure on the ballot asking for a 0.2 percent sales tax increase. A similar transit measure was narrowly defeated in April 2015.

Not everyone agrees that it is the City's place to force a vote. Councilman Mike Fagan, who voted against the proposal, said it could take money from road repairs and opens the door for increased vehicle licensing fees.

Conversely, Spokane Valley Councilman and STA board member Ed Pace said he supports the change because the Central City Line is Spokane City-based, and he doesn't feel Spokane Valley taxpayers should pay for something that doesn't benefit them.

If STA puts the measure on the ballot, they will ask for a 0.2 percent tax increase. If the City does it, it would also be 0.2 percent, but City Council President Ben Stuckart said the city’s current vehicle licensing fee of $20 could be removed thanks to increased tax revenue.

It would cost $4 million per year to operate the line. That funding would have to come from a local source.
The proposed route of Spokane Transit's Central City Line (click to view full size)

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About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.