Pierce council adds its voice to opposition of utility tax

Staff writerOctober 30, 2013 

The Pierce County Council voted Tuesday to oppose Tacoma’s effort to further tax utility earnings to fix the city’s residential streets.

The County Council, in a 5-1 vote, said it disagreed with Tacoma Proposition 1, which seeks to increase the utility earnings tax on electric, telephone and natural gas service from 6 percent to 8 percent to pay for road and safety projects. The measure will be decided by Tacoma voters on Tuesday.

Councilman Dan Roach said Prop. 1 is “worse than taxation without representation” because half of Tacoma Power’s customers live outside of the city limits, cannot vote on the issue and have no legal recourse.

“They are going to take it in the shorts,” Roach said.

Councilwoman Joyce McDonald was absent from the meeting. The lone “no” vote came from Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg.

“I believe the citizens of Pierce County are smart enough to figure it out on their own. They don’t need us to tell them how to vote,” she said.

The County Council’s resolution says that the council, in addition to opposing Prop. 1, also objects to any increases in the rates paid by Tacoma Power customers living outside of Tacoma without a full vote of those customers.

Tacoma Public Utilities officials have said they might need to raise rates to recoup the expense of a higher utility earnings tax. Such a rate increase would be subject to the City Council’s approval.

The Pierce County Council’s vote follows the approval of similar measures against Prop. 1 by the University Place and Lakewood city councils earlier this month.

Two other groups of elected officials – the Tacoma school board and the Metro Parks Tacoma board – have backed Prop. 1. The Metro Parks board voted Monday 3-1 in support of Prop. 1, with Aaron Pointer voting against. Larry Dahl was on vacation.

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

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