A sales tax increase to pay for the operation of light rail in Clark County and other purposes will be discussed by a panel of experts on Tues., Oct. 9, during a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Clark County.
The tax measure will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Marvin Case, publisher emeritus of The Reflector Newspaper, will moderate the forum which will take place at the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C Street, Vancouver, beginning at 6:15 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
The tax proposal would increase the sales tax by one-tenth of one percent, or one penny on a $10 purchase. The tax would raise about $4.6 million annually.
A light rail system is planned as part of the project to rebuild the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. Light rail would connect the Clark College area to the existing light rail line at the Expo Center in Portland and from there to the 52 miles of light rail in Portland.
Clark County taxpayers would not be asked to pay for construction of the light rail system, but would be responsible for paying to operate and maintain the system. Operation costs are estimated at $2.5 million annually.
The remainder of the new tax would be used to construct a “bus rapid transit” system along Fourth Plain Blvd. in Vancouver.
The bus rapid transit system would include raised boarding platforms, a different type of bus, and faster service between downtown Vancouver and Westfield Vancouver Mall.
The federal government is expected to pay 70-80 percent of the bus rapid transit construction cost, leaving the local share of $8-16 million.
Once constructed, the bus rapid transit system is expected to cost less to operate and maintain than the current cost of bus service.
Only residents of the incorporated cities of Clark County, along with those living in the Vancouver urban growth area, will be allowed to vote on the proposed tax because those areas make up the current C-TRAN service area.
Panelists for the Oct. 9 forum will be C-TRAN spokesman Scott Patterson, downtown Vancouver business owners Tim Kraft and Leah Jackson, certified public accountant Tiffany Couch, Vancouver council member Bill Turlay, Mark Maggiora of the American Building Community, and Michael Ennis of the Washington Policy Center which is based in Seattle. Clark County commissioner Steve Stuart has also been invited to serve as a panelist.
Anne McEnerny-Ogle, president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County, described the upcoming forum as a “community conversation” without rancor where voters will be able to obtain accurate information. She said the forum will be educational in nature.
The forum will be televised by CVTV-23 both live and repeated later.
More information is available by calling McEnerny-Ogle, (360) 695-5124, or Marvin Case, (360) 687-4122 and email@example.com.