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.

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