Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tacoma Proposition #1 For and Against Committee Recommendations

In a special meeting of Tacoma’s Government Performance and Finance Committee held this morning, Committee Chair Joe Lonergan, Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Deputy Mayor Marty Campbell, and Councilman Robert Thoms voted unanimously to recommend:  
  • Mark Martinez, Harold Moss, and Clare Petrich to the “For” Committee and  
  •  Thomas Oldfield, Rachel Hanson, and Robert Casey to the “Against” Committee regarding City of Tacoma Proposition Number 1. 
Proposition Number 1, which would add a two percent earnings tax on utility companies for Tacoma street improvement, would fund the following: basic maintenance and safety upgrades for city roads, arterials, and bridges; permanent pothole repairs; pedestrian safety improvement to crosswalks near schools, sidewalks, and intersections; repaving of neighborhood streets; improved signal timing; and repairs to bridges. 

Applicants who were not recommended include: Mark Bubenik, Gary Romero, Kimberly Seely, Dave McEntee, and Sharon Benson, all nominees for the “Against” Committee.

Recommendations will be presented for adoption to the City Council tonight. 

The Chamber has not yet developed a policy statement on this ballot issue. Chamber members wishing to participate in this decision may attend a special meeting of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, Tuesday, August 6, 8:00 a.m., Chamber Offices, Simpson Community Room, 950 Pacific Ave., Ste. 300, Tacoma 98402. 

UPDATE JULY 31:  The Chamber's Government Affairs Committee meets Tues., Aug. 6, 8:00 a.m., in the Chamber offices to review the City of Tacoma's Prop. 1 ballot issue proposing a 2% increase in gross earning tax on select utilities for Tacoma street infrastructure.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Citizens Can Get Involved in Prop. 1


Notice is hereby given that a special meeting of the Tacoma Council's Government Performance and Finance Committee will be held on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, at 9:00 a.m., in Conference Room 16 of the Tacoma Municipal Building North, located at 733 Market Street, Tacoma 98402.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss, review, and possibly make recommendations of individuals to be appointed to the "For" and "Against" Committees regarding City of Tacoma Proposition No.1.

Chamber members that are interested in participating on the statement committees for the Voter’s Pamphlet, please contact:
Gary Brackett, 253-682-17220, garyb@tacomachamber.org or
David Schroedel, 253-682-1723, davids@tacomachamber.org

The Chamber has not yet developed a policy statement on this ballot issue.  Chamber members wishing to participate in this decision may attend a special meeting of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, Tuesday, August 6, 8:00 a.m., Chamber Offices, Simpson Community Room, 950 Pacific Ave., Ste. 300, Tacoma 98402.

Additional information regarding Proposition No.1 can be accessed at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tacoma Council Scorecard for 2Q2013

For the last two years the Chamber has been working to hold our elected officials accountable.  Over this time, we have opened up a more continuous dialogue with electeds while also creating tools to better highlight their stances to our members.  The scorecard does this as straightforwardly as possible – by reporting the actual votes taken.  However, it can be challenging to keep up with all of the last minute changes made with little or no notice.

Click on Image for a Larger View. For a Print View click here.

For example, the Tacoma City Council’s recently passed legislation creating a Transportation Commission to help guide infrastructure improvements.  This proposal was circulated in advance and the Chamber expressed support for a comprehensive perspective on transportation. However, the Chamber also recommended that the legislation needed to recognize the significant role freight mobility plays by including a freight representative on the Commission.

With no advance notice to the public, Council made an amendment to the legislation which asked for commissioners to be in all of those categories representing moving people.  There was no mention of commissioners for any categories representing the movement of goods. Since new language did not include a freight-oriented commissioner, the Council failed to recognize the reality of our economy – we are dependent on goods delivered to stores, to the Port of Tacoma and to customers around the world.

While the Chamber initially supported this legislation, we could not support something that so readily ignored a crucial part of our economy.  This could have been rectified if the amendment had a transparent and public vetting. There may be times when Council feels speed trumps transparency, but currently this happens too frequently.  If the Council truly values an engaged business community we encourage them to be more transparent in their actions.

Council Proposes Utility Tax Increase

The Tacoma City Council, by unanimous voice vote, approved placing on the Nov. 5, 2013 ballot a proposal to increase utility taxes by 2% for roads.

Along with a few business executives, the Chamber testified during the public comments section against rapid approval of the Resolution 38700.  A draft of the resolution was only proposed late Tuesday, July 16 at a Council Committee of the Whole.

As explained in an earlier Live Wire blog article, the Chamber recognizes the critical need for better roads in our community, but is concerned about the immediate passage to the ballot of this tax increase.  Indeed, during Council comments, Councilmember Joe Lonergan solicited from Kurtis Kingsolver, Interim Director, Tacoma Public Works, that this funding option for road improvements has never been vetted by any committee.

The Chamber urged caution in rapid approval of the resolution because:
  • The impacts of this tax increase on our community and economy are unknown.
  • The process has not taken advantage of the system of citizens’ committees the Council has just put into place.
  • This tax is just a small increment to the financing needs for Tacoma’s roads and is not part of a comprehensive plan.
The Chamber has not yet taken a position on the proposed tax increase.  In arriving at its decision on this issue, the Chamber will follow its committee procedure and seek its Board’s approval for adopting policy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chamber Opposes Resolution for 2% Tax on Utilities

The Chamber recommends a “NO” vote by Tacoma City Councilmembers to City Council Resolution No. 38700 that would levy a 2 percent tax on gas, phone and electric companies.  The City has stated that these new tax revenues would go towards transportation improvements.

The Chamber supports efforts and investments to improve roads with responsible and sustainable planning. The City of Tacoma estimates that it needs roughly $800 million in additional revenue to fix existing transportation infrastructure inadequacies.  The proposed tax increase would raise roughly $10 million per year.

“An 80-year long ‘road fix’ is not acceptable.  Not only is it an unnecessarily excessive time period to implement such a fix, but there has been no accountability put in place for a solid plan,” said Tom Pierson, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO. “Why not consider a proposal that would actually provide sound investments for the needed road repairs and maintenance in our lifetime while including transparency in the process.”

Since the proposal did not go before any of the four City of Tacoma created bodies that might typically see this type of proposal, the Chamber is concerned with the short timeline and lack of preparedness the Council had before presenting the proposal as a ballot measure.

The City of Tacoma created four different entities that would normally examine this type of proposal, including:
•    Government, Performance & Finance Committee (which reviews tax issues)
•    Infrastructure, Planning & Sustainability (which reviews many public works issues)
•    The newly created Transportation Commission (which reviews transportation issues)
•    The Fiscal Sustainability Task Force (which is actively reviewing the City’s tax revenue structure)

The Chamber realizes the necessity of a solution that addresses the poor conditions of Tacoma roads but advises City leaders to consider more analysis on impacts to its citizens and businesses before putting forth a plan to vote.

Update: July 23, 2013:   The Chamber has not yet studied the proposed tax assessment and plan, given the extremely short time this proposal has had public exposure.  If placed by the City Council on the November 5 ballot, the Chamber will follow its normal procedure for committee review and Board of Directors policy adoption.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Free boat tours of Port Aug. 25 at Maritime Fest

Join the Port on their free guided boat tours Sunday, Aug. 25, for a ship-side view of one of North America's largest container ports during Tacoma Maritime Fest.

The boat departs from 535 Dock St. at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. Tickets are required and will be available at the Port booth beginning at 9 a.m. the day of the tours. Boarding is first come, first served. Passengers with mobility challenges should plan to take the 10 a.m. tour when the tide makes it easier to board.

For more information, call 253-593-4485.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Compiling List of Major Employers for Pierce County

Do you have 100 or more full time equivalent (FTE) employees?

The Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board is compiling their annual Major Employers list. Please help by providing your organization’s 2013 FTE number.

Every employer with 100 or more FTEs working in Pierce County will be included. Each FTE number includes all full-time employees plus a proportionate fraction for part-time employees working less than 40 hours/week. They also count contract employees who have been hired for the duration of grant-funded contracts.

If you know of another growing organization that may have 100 FTEs or more, please call it to the EDB’s attention. They will reach out to verify employment.

Please contact Ryan Petty  or (253) 284-5891at the Economic Development Board.

Be On the Lookout for Primary Ballots

Be on the lookout for August 6 Primary ballots! The Pierce County Voters Pamphlets were mailed Thursday, July 11. Ballots to registered voters will be mailed on Friday, July 19. Pierce County election officials suggest voters return ballots early. Ballots may be returned by mail (postage required) or at a drop box (no postage required). Drop boxes are open 24/7 through August 6 at 8 pm. For more information on how to register to vote or to locate a drop box near you, visit the Pierce County Elections website.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Apply for Tacoma City Events and Recognition Committee

The City of Tacoma is looking for applicants to fill nine positions on the new City Events and Recognition Committee (CERC). CERC will serve as an advisory and action committee on City-hosted events and special recognition programs.

Additionally, CERC will be responsible for planning, reviewing and evaluating events, fundraising, and gaining event sponsorships for City-hosted events like Tacoma's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the City of Destiny Awards, and possibly the new military parade. Committee members must be Tacoma residents, representing each of Tacoma's five Council Districts. CERC members should have a broad range of diverse perspectives, experience, and skill sets.

Currently, the City has only received two applications and will extend the application deadline. Get involved in our community and apply today!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

SR 167 - Working for Completion

Tom Pierson, Pres./CEO of the Chamber says "Thanks to all the state legislators and members of the state-wide coalition for Completion of SR 167.  We almost made it – and we are not giving up!"

The Washington State Legislature did not pass the Transportation Revenue Package before they adjourned the 2nd legislative special session Saturday evening.  Passage of the Transportation Revenue Package would have meant completion of SR 167. Completing SR 167 means 80,000 good paying jobs, which in turn means growing our economy in Pierce County, and putting us on the global competitive map for future generations!

Thanks to these nine Pierce County legislators who stood up for these good jobs and economic opportunity for our communities:

25th District: Reps. Dawn Morrell and Hans Zeiger.
26th District: Rep. Larry Seaquist.
27th District: Reps. Laurie Jinkins and Jake Fey.
28th District: Rep. Tami Green.
29th District: Reps. David Sawyer and Steve Kirby
30th District: Rep. Roger Freeman

Please feel free to contact members of the delegation with a note of appreciation.

Over the past 153 days of legislative session there are many people to thank. The Chamber and the 167 Coalition are especially indebted to Michael Transue, the chamber’s lobbyist. He worked tirelessly throughout the session!

The many calls, emails and meetings you - the Chamber membership -  took part in were a huge asset.  To you all, a big thank you!  There are many more volunteers whose unflagging involvement deserves recognition. But even at the risk of getting into trouble with omitting names, such a long list would exceed the reasonable limits of this correspondence.

Even though there wasn’t a Senate vote on the Transportation Package, there were many in our delegation ready to vote YES.   Lastly, Pierson thanks Congressman Denny Heck for his leadership and constant focus and strength as a relentless advocate for completing 167.

Next Steps – We are not giving up!
We cannot wait till 2014 or 2015; we need to continue to push to get this done.  Completion of 167 has been waiting for 30 years; we cannot wait any longer.

So at the end of the special session, we are not giving up. We are discussing ways to put a package together with statewide stakeholders, including leaders in the legislature from all four caucuses.  We will be leaning on them more in the days to come. 

More information here: Complete State Route 167 blog

House Members who voted NO:
2nd Legislative District:  Reps. Gary Alexander and J.T. Wilcox.
26th District: Rep. Jan Angel
30th District: Rep. Linda Kochmar
31st District: Reps. Cathy Dahlquist and Christopher Hurst