City starts on road toward new tax

It’s one step for Bainbridge’s new transportation district, and one giant leap toward a $20 island-wide vehicle tax.

The freshly minted Bainbridge Island Transportation Benefit District held its first meeting on Wednesday at city hall.

The district, formed in August by the city council who also comprises its board, had a very smooth inaugural session that chiefly covered establishing the nuts and bolts of the organization.

A board’s chair was first established.

“We probably shouldn’t be referencing our council business,” said Councilman Bob Scales noting that it was important to keep the two government entities separate.

“I think it’s better not to have a policy but to informally say that the mayor is the chair,” Scales added.

The rest of the board agreed and Council Mayor Debbi Lester officially became the first chair of the district’s board.

The board also passed an interlocal agreement to between the district and the city of Bainbridge Island. The city council also gave a thumbs up to the agreement at its meeting immediately following the board’s approval.

The board also set up a quarterly meeting schedule for the second Wednesday of each quarter.

But the night’s organizational topics were just preliminary hurdles the board had to jump before getting to the issue it eagerly aims to tackle — an island-wide vehicle tax. Councilwoman Anne Blair suggested the board address the much anticipated vehicle excise tax as soon as possible.

As previously discussed by the council before the formation of the district, the fee would likely be $20, the maximum allowed by law.

City estimates indicate that it could raise approximately $330,686, based on the 18,000-plus registered vehicles on Bainbridge.

The board will begin a discussion covering the excise tax and how to implement it on Oct. 24.

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