Washington state communities get say on transportation issues

| Monday, October 31, 2011

Election season is already underway in Washington state. Ballots mailed to voters more than a week ago cover several issues, including transportation.

Voters in Clark County will decide whether to increase the local sales tax by 0.2 percent for transit. The increase amounts to an extra 2 cents on every $10 purchase.

If approved, Proposition 1 would increase the tax rate from 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent to benefit C-Tran, or the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority. The bus system serves communities that include Vancouver, Battle Ground and Ridgefield.

Supporters say the additional revenue is needed to preserve existing bus service and avoid a 35 percent cut in service by 2013.

Opponents say that taxpayers cannot afford another tax increase in a down economy. Instead, they would rather see C-Tran do a better job of managing existing revenue.

In North Bend, voters can cast ballots on whether to authorize their own 0.2 percent sales tax increase specifically for transportation improvements. If approved, the tax rate would increase from 8.6 percent to 8.8 percent.

The Seattle-area community would receive an estimated $400,000 annually for such projects as street reconstruction, intersection improvements and new signal installation.

A street levy is on the ballot in nearby Pacific City. Voters in the town will decide whether to increase the property tax by a rate of $1.66 per $1,000 assessed value for another five years.

The additional revenue would help pay for purchasing road repair and maintenance equipment for the city.

Another issue that is on various ballots in the state addresses the use of automated enforcement. Monroe is one of at least three communities in northwest Washington to ask voters for their input on the issue.

As is the case in nearby Bellingham and Longview, the ballot question amounts to an advisory vote. In each of the communities it is up to the city council to heed the will of the voters when the ticket programs come up for renewal.

Ballots in Washington state for the Nov. 8 election were mailed out to registered voters in mid-October. Washington and Oregon are the only states to run their elections entirely by mail.

Additional coverage of elections in Washington state:
Election Day: Washington cities to get say on ticket cameras
Washington state ballot initiative would restrict tolls

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