Citizens of Battle Ground and its immediate surrounding area will have an opportunity to join city officials and Rep. Liz Pike in a joint town hall meeting on Sat., Feb. 14, to discuss a city and county taxing authority proposal to fund local transportation projects.
A bill has been introduced in the House Transportation Committee, where Pike serves as a member, that would modify the authority of cities and counties, under certain circumstances, to impose a local annual vehicle fee of up to $50 and a local sales and use tax of up to 0.2 percent with a vote of the governing board.
House Bill 1593 would allow cities and counties with the same boundaries of a Transportation Benefit District to assume the powers of that taxing entity for the purposes of funding and constructing transportation projects.
“What we’re trying to do with the bill going through the legislature is basically give local control back to us,’’ said Battle Ground Mayor Shane Bowman, who testified recently before the legislature in Olympia in support of the bill. “We believe it’s a good thing for cities such as Battle Ground to take local control.’’
Pike did not author the bill, nor is she a co-sponsor. However, she notes that the city of Battle Ground, which is within the 18th Legislative District she serves, supports House Bill 1593. An executive summary issued by the city says the bill “would provide cities a critical tool to resolve local transportation infrastructure needs.”
“City officials are telling me that they don’t have the funds nor the funding means to pay for the cost of maintaining their streets. They want to have councilmanic authority to increase the sales tax by two-tenths of one percent or add a fifty-dollar vehicle tab fee onto Battle Ground residents to pay for important local transportation needs,” said Pike.
“I’m very sensitive to the concerns and wishes of the citizens I represent, including those in Battle Ground, and especially when it comes to tax increases. But I also want to support our local governments,” added Pike. “Eventually, I’m going to have to vote on this legislation. So the city of Battle Ground has agreed to jointly sponsor a town hall meeting with me and the residents of the community so that we can gauge how they feel about this bill that would give the city council the ability to raise their taxes for local transportation projects.”
Bowman said an example of how local control would benefit Battle Ground is the $7.5 million of funds targeted for the city in the $8 billion transportation package the legislature failed to pass last year and will consider again during this year’s session. The $7.5 million that would be awarded to Battle Ground would be used for the 502/503 Congestion Release Project.
“If we asked the citizens of Battle Ground how to use that money, they would tell us to fix South Parkway,’’ Bowman said. “If we had local control, we would have never put that (502/503 project) on there.’’
The town hall meeting will be held Sat., Feb. 14, 10-11 a.m., at the Battle Ground City Hall, 109 S.W. 1st Street in Battle Ground. Discussion will center exclusively on House Bill 1593 during the hour-long meeting. Pike will stay afterward to answer questions related to other legislative matters.
“This meeting really is about representative government. Before I vote on such a critical issue for Battle Ground, I really need to know what its citizens support or do not support,’’ said Pike.
For more information about the Battle Ground town hall meeting, contact Pike’s Olympia office at (360) 786-7812.
For more information about Rep. Pike, visit www.representativelizpike.com.