Pierce County Council might add voice against Proposition 1

Staff writersOctober 23, 2013 

A third government is poised to oppose Tacoma’s tax proposition to fix its ailing roads.

The Pierce County Council fast-tracked a resolution Tuesday opposing Tacoma Proposition 1, setting a final vote for its 3 p.m. meeting next Tuesday. If the council approves the resolution, it would join the Lakewood and University Place city councils in official opposition to Prop. 1.

The Tacoma measure would increase the utility earnings tax on natural gas, telephone and electric utilities from 6 percent to 8 percent. If Tacoma voters approve the proposition, the city expects to collect between $10 million and $11 million per year — money earmarked for road repairs.

But half of that money would come from ratepayers outside of Tacoma’s city limits, an idea that doesn’t sit well with Pierce council member Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake. He advanced the resolution because nearly half of Tacoma Power’s ratepayers won’t have a say in Prop. 1’s passage.

“For my constituents, all I can do in this situation is to try to draw attention to it that this is something I don’t agree with,” Roach said.

Council member Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma and a former member of Tacoma’s council, said the proposition deserves debate, but the council would be exerting “undue influence” by weighing in on it.

“I don’t think it should be debated on this board, this policy board,” Ladenburg said.

Roach disagreed. Taxation without representation is “one of those big issues where I think we can weigh in and should,” he said.

The money from Prop. 1’s tax increase would pay for pothole repairs, paving, crosswalks near schools and traffic signal timing.

While private utilities could pass along the extra earnings tax to customers once they show state regulators proof of additional costs, Tacoma Power officials have said they do not expect to ask for a rate increase until 2015 at the earliest.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542
kate.martin@thenewstribune.com
@KateReports

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647
steve.maynard@thenewstribune.com
@tntstevemaynard

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