The University Place City Council lobbed the first volley of any local city council against Tacoma’s Proposition 1 Monday night.
After more than 20 minutes of intense discussion, the council unanimously approved its resolution, which opposes any attempt by the City of Tacoma to increase rates to University Place residents if voters approve Proposition 1 next month.
Tacoma Proposition 1 would raise utility earnings taxes on telephone, natural gas and electric utilities by 2 percent. The money raised, about $11 million, would pay for repairs and improvements to Tacoma’s streets.
Mayor Pro Tem Denise McCluskey said University Place residents sometimes use Tacoma streets, but the electric utility rates would increase and University Place would see no benefit.
“I believe this is a backhanded way to get taxed without representation,” McCluskey said.
How did the city plan to deliver its vote to Tacoma’s leaders, she asked?
“I was going to tie it around an arrow and set it on fire and send it to the council chambers, the traditional way to start a war,” said city attorney Steve Victor.
Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax has said any rate increases would not be automatic.
While other utilities are likely pass along the cost increase to customers, Tacoma Power’s rates only change through a vote of the Tacoma City Council. But under past practice, Tacoma Power has passed along utility earnings tax as an increase to all of its customers.
Nearly 78,000 customers of Tacoma Power are outside of the city limits, which represents nearly 44 percent of Tacoma Power’s total annual revenue, according to the public utility.
Lakewood’s City Council plans to discuss Tacoma’s Proposition 1 at a Oct. 21 meeting.
Read Wednesday’s newspaper for more on outlying communities’ concerns about the proposed utility tax increase.
Kate Martin: 253-597-8542