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Council to mull car fees | Around the Island

Council to mull car fees

Faced with a two-year budget crunch that could eliminate road funding in 2009 and 2010, a proposal for initiating a car registration fee to pay for road maintenance is gaining speed.

According to legislation passed last year by the state, municipalities can create a Transportation Benefit District that will allow the city to collect $20 each year for every car registered in Bainbridge Island.

The TBD acts as a quasi-municipal corporation and independent taxing district, which is obligated to spend all money received on funding transportation and non-motorized improvements within the city.

The TBD is allowed to go into effect without public vote, and is a way for municipalities to pay for road maintenance after proposition I-695 passed with state voters and rescinded the motor vehicle excise tax.

Council member Barry Peters brought the proposal forward to the council’s Finance Committee meeting this week and later expressed his belief that if the council didn’t adopt the measure, Kitsap County could in the near future. That would remove some of the ability for the city to control how registration fees are spent, he said.

Council member Debbie Vancil spoke out against the fee, stating that she didn’t believe the city should levy what amounted to a tax on its citizens in the current economic slump.

A second piece of Peters’ proposal would be to use the money gained through car registration fees to pay for Winslow Way road repairs in 2011. The council could then remove a 6 percent utility tax that downtown ratepayers currently give to the city to pay for that portion of the Winslow Way reconstruction.

The 6 percent tax on Winslow water and sewer charges amounts to about $525,000 in 2009.

According to Peters, the vehicle registration fee could collect $440,000 per year from island residents.

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