Burien Council OKs $10 Car Fees to Restore, Maintain City Streets
A $10 vehicle license fee was adopted on June 21 by the Burien Transportation District to fund a 20-year, $19.4 million program to restore and maintain city streets.
The action came on a 4-3 vote by the city council, sitting as the board of commissioners for the transportation district, following a public hearing.
This program, including the fee, was approved by the council in April, but state law required that final action be taken by the transportation district commission.
Mayor Joan McGilton, Deputy Mayor Rose Clark, and council members Jack Block Jr. and Kathy Keene voted for the fee on vehicles registered in the city.
Council members Brian Bennett, Lucy Krakowiak and Gordon Shaw opposed it.
The affirmative vote also provided that the boundary of the city wide district will expand to include any future annexations by Burien.
Only two residents testified during the public hearing: Ed Dacy, who supported the fee-based program as an investment in the cityâ€™s future; and former councilman Stephen Lamphear, who opposed the action.
The $10 license fee will help fund 2-inch asphalt overlays and related repairs on more than 260 miles of city streets to restore and maintain city streets at an average Pavement Condition Index level of 80 percent. The current average condition of local streets is 68 percent.
McGilton said prior to the vote that with the lack of state and federal funds, â€œthe only funding source remaining to us is our city. Ten dollars is a reasonable amount to pay for those of us who use the roads in Burien.â€
Block called it â€œa good investment that has a good payback,â€ while Keene called it â€œgood policyâ€ that â€œbrings our roads up to the standards we want â€¦ unlike our sister city to the north.â€
Lamphearâ€™s remarks echoed his recent comments in a letter to The B-Town Blog (link here) that the hearing is â€œa time and money waster.â€
In that letter, he criticized â€œthe arrogance of the Imperial Burien City Councilâ€ for thumbing â€œtheir collective noses at the 75% of voters who voted NO on this license fee last year.â€
The Transportation Benefit District was adopted by the city council in July 2009, which proposed at that time bicycle and pedestrian improvements along 8th Avenue S. and S/SW 136th Sts. â€“ to be funded through an annual vehicle license fee of $25.
But last fall, this license fee proposal was rejected by 75 percent of those voting in the city election.
Although state law requires a Transportation Improvement District commission to hold a public hearing when fees are imposed, it does not require a vote on fees at a basic $10 level.
Asked about Lamphearâ€™s complaint by The B-Town Blog prior to Mondayâ€™s meeting, the Mayor flatly rejected it.
â€œI donâ€™t think the community felt obligated just to do 136th Street and 8th Avenue,â€ McGilton said, referring to the limited scope of last yearâ€™s ballot issue compared to the new program.
To residents, asphalt-overlays throughout the city â€œmeans the street by my house,â€ she said.
And the $10 fee for this program to improve all city streets is much less than the $25 fee that was proposed for bicycle and pedestrian improvements only.
â€œWeâ€™re paying it forward,â€ McGilton continued. â€œTen dollars per car is a good investment in 20 years of drivable roads. This is a road program that will be paid for by everybody who lives in the city and drives on our roads.â€
The $10 fee will generate about $300,000 annually for ongoing asphalt overlays. Funds for the initial $8.6 million phase of the project, expected to start this summer and continue through 2011, will come from bonds issued by the city.
McGilton noted that this is the third year the city has not been able to pay for asphalt overlays through its general fund.
This program â€œshows vision,â€ she added. â€œItâ€™s doing something good for the community rather than just doing what gets us re-elected.â€