Transportation board stalls vote on car tab fee

The Bainbridge Island City Council rushed to put together a Transportation Benefit District, but it’s taking its time to do anything with it.

City officials once again delayed a vote to launch a $20 car tab fee to pay for road projects, prompting criticism from some on the board.

“The longer we wait, the longer it’s going to take for revenue to come in,” said Board Member Bob Scales. “We are wasting time and we are wasting money.”

The vote on the new car tab fee was postponed until the district’s next meeting in January.

The matter has been at the forefront of the district since its formation in September with unanimous effort by the council.

The board’s formation was spearheaded by Councilwoman Anne Blair. She warned that if the city didn’t form the district and impose a car tax, then the county would, and the island would not have any say in managing the funds.

But each time the tax has come before the district’s board, composed of the city council, it has been pushed off to a later date.

On Wednesday, the board pushed it off once more.

“We don’t have enough revenue to constantly sustain the level of money we need to improve our roads,” Blair said shortly before the board postponed the matter.

But not all agreed.

Board member David Ward said he wanted to see what the city council would eventually do with its 2013-2014 biennial budget for funding island roads before imposing a new fee.

Board member Sarah Blossom was also not in favor of approving the fee before exploring other ideas, such as bonds and impact fees.

“This might not be difficult for anyone up here to pay for, but it may be difficult for the people who make your coffee and serve you at the bank,” Blossom added. “We need to remember that.”

The council voted 4-3 to postpone the vote until January 2013.

Scales again questioned the wisdom of the delay.

“I think it’s a very inefficient, unproductive and disingenuous way to run a government,” Scales said.

“I hope next time we schedule something to take a vote, we take a vote. I’m just very wary of this scheduling charade,” he said.

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