Open Your Wallets, Burien â€“ New $10 License Tab Fee Approved For Streets
Burien City Council members voted 5-2 on April 26 to put the brakes on deteriorating streets â€“ using a new $10 annual license tab fee to help pay for the ongoing roadwork.
â€œFuture generations are going to thank you for this, I guarantee it,â€ City Manager Mike Martin told the lawmakers after the action, which creates a Transportation Benefit District in Burien.
The $10 license tab fee â€“ the maximum amount that can be imposed by law without asking voters for permission â€“ will be assessed on vehicles registered in the city.
It will generate $300,000 annually to fund part of the cost of a 20-year, $19.4 million program to restore Burienâ€™s streets with a 2-inch asphalt overlay, which will maintain them at an average Pavement Condition Index of 80 percent.
The current condition of city streets is an average of 68 percent, with all of the cityâ€™s streets needing work.
And, Public Works Director Larry Blanchard reminded council members, the cost of repairing streets increases â€œexponentiallyâ€ compared to the cost of maintaining them in good condition.
â€œThe time is now to buy these [street maintenance] services,â€ declared Councilman Gordon Shaw before the councilâ€™s vote.
â€œTen dollars is the right amountâ€ for the license tab fee, said Mayor Joan McGilton. â€œWe need to get started now while construction prices are probably as good as weâ€™re going to get.â€
Joining McGilton and Shaw in voting yes were Deputy Mayor Rose Clark and council members Jack Block Jr., Rose Clark and Kathy Keene.
Brian Bennett and Lucy Krawkowiak voted no.
â€œWe need to acknowledge these are tough economic timesâ€ and a $10 fee would â€œbe a hardshipâ€ for some vehicle owners, Bennett said.
Krakowiak opposed the ordinance even after saying that â€œcars should pay for the use of streets.â€
But, countered Block, â€œthe sooner we get going, the sooner we can bring our roads up to industrialized-world standards,â€ noting that Burien does not want its streets to deteriorate to â€œthird-worldâ€ conditions like some in Seattle are.
He also argued that tapping the cityâ€™s Capital Projects Reserve Fund â€œis totally appropriateâ€ to maintain infrastructure.
Funding for street maintenance â€œhas slowly eroded â€¦ to the point where [it] has been stopped until adequate funding is restored,â€ Blanchard told council members.
And â€œnot overlaying streets can only continue for a few years, then repair costs of streets will exponentially increase up to10 times the cost of normal repair to the point that the city cannot afford to replace the 263 lane miles of streets.â€
As a result of the council action, the city will spend $8.6 million through 2011 to bring its street system up to an average Pavement Condition Index of 80-plus percent. Actual road work could begin later this construction season.
Following this work, which will resurface many of the cityâ€™s major arterials, it will spend $600,000 a year to maintain the streets â€“ minimizing what Blanchard called â€œthe extraordinary cost of rebuilding failed streets.â€
The initial $8.6 million phase of this ongoing project will be funded by bonds that will be issued by the city late this summer.
A 20-year, $650,000 annual debt service and the annual $600,000 maintenance work will be paid from several sources:
- $750,000 in annual savings by having Burien staff and equipment doing surface water management and street maintenance that currently is done by King County;
- $100,000 from the Capital Projects Reserve Fund;
- $100,000 from in-lieu fees assessed Seattle City Light customers;
- And the $300,000 from license tab fees assessed through the new Transportation Benefit District.